“Pay attention to your attention.”
As we spend more and more time at the office it’s worth looking into the effect this has on our lives overall. There is a ton of research showing unequivocally that our environment can either increase or decrease our stress, no surprise here, however what is a surprise, is the overall impact on our bodies one way or the other. What you see, hear, and experience at any moment changes not only your mood, but also how well your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems work.
The stress of an unpleasant environment can cause you to feel anxious, or sad, or helpless. This in turn elevates your blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension and suppresses your immune system. In the inverse situation, a pleasing environment can reverse that.
So what qualifies as pleasing? The bulk of the research has shown that being in nature is key to a “pleasing environment”, even just viewing scenes of nature reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Your daily leaf peeping session not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your overall physical well being, reducing the negative effects listed above, and increases the production of stress hormones. Some research has shown that it can also affect mortality overall. So it is literally the tree of eternal-ish life.
Bottom line, if you have a something as simple as a plant, on your desk, or can take a quick walk outside (even in the cold) you will be reversing some of the potential negative effects of a fast-paced work environment. Every little break helps to increase your focus, renew your patience, bolster your immune system, inspire creativity and make you a better human in general.
Try this the next time you are outside, take a look around you, try to spot something simple and beautiful. Then just observe, listen and breathe.