The majority of us live in cities, or work on computers all day, both of which require direct and focused attention. This continuous need of our focused attention, which allows us to cross the street without getting hit by a car, or quickly navigate a large crowd to catch a train, for instance, also fatigues our brain over time.
How Nature Helps
A report published in the journal, Psychological Science, reports on the restorative effects of nature. Nature “modestly” grabs our attention, and in so doing allows are brains to recover through a process called “attention restorative therapy.” Researchers at the University of Kansas and University of Utah found that hikers who spent four days immersed in nature had a 50 percent increase in performance on creativity and problem-solving tasks. But you don’t need to run away for days in the woods to get the benefit of increased mental function – even a five minute walk outside in a park will help you focus.
|Explore More Resources:
"Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review." Environmental Science & Technology, 2012
"Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings" PLOSone, 2012
"Cognitive Benefits of Interacting with Nature" Psychological Science, 2008
“A Comparison of Leisure Time Spent in a Garden with Leisure Time Spent Indoors: On Measures of Restoration in Residents in Geriatric Care” Landscape Research, 2006
New Research: Nature Helps With Brain Fatigue, The Dirt blog
|ASLA 2010 Professional General Design Honor Award, Underwood Family Sonoran Landscape Laboratory, Tucson, Arizona, Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Inc. / Image credit: Bill Timmerman
The American Horticultural Therapy Association
Role of the Landscape Architect
Landscape architects have designed an outdoor classroom at the University of Arizona that allows students the chance to meet informally, all while having their attention restored outside.
Like other major urban parks, Phoenix Park in Dublin provides the opportunity for people to step away from the man-made environment of their city into a natural environment, giving them the chance to come away restored.
Underwood Family Sonoran Landscape Laboratory, Tucson, Arizona Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Inc.
Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland