Your Brain Needs Nature

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Your Brain Needs Nature
I just returned from a wonderful trip. This trip provided the opportunity to conduct a presentation on brain development with fabulous people working on the promoting the optimal development of children's brains.

The trip also gave me a chance to spend time in beautiful natural surroundings. My brain loved it!

Are you aware there is a national movement to, “leave no child inside”?  With increasing research the benefits of nature on the brain is being revealed. Not only does science show us the benefits but it is also creating awareness of the detrimental impacts a lack of nature plays. 

Brains are constantly in an anticipation and prediction mode due to the priority of safety. So the brain is primarily focusing attention on the environment and the people in it for safety and trust.  When we are in a busy environment filled with a lot going on and several things for the brain to monitor, notice, and keep track of at the same time it requires a lot of attention.  This takes a lot of brain energy and effort. This results in difficulty with memory and less self-control.

When we are in natural surroundings the brain can relax a bit since there is not as much coming at us at a fast pace that requires our attention.  Natural settings allow the brain to actually replenish itself.

Just think about the relaxation CD’s you might listen to. They usually include sounds of nature, such as birds, a babbling brook, or the sounds of waves. They do not include sounds of traffic, sirens, or a noisy crowed room of people arguing.

Research is demonstrating that even seeing a grassy area or trees outside a window can have a positive impact on the brain. One study found children in classrooms with natural sunlight coming in the windows or skylight scored better in reading and math than children in rooms without natural light. And, several studies have shown that children with attention-deficit-disorder are able to focus better and are less likely to have behavioral problems when spending time in natural settings.

If we really want to have a positive influence on brains, I feel it is critically important to include information on the impact playing outdoors and time spent in nature has on the brain. Fortunately, there is much to be shared on this topic.  For further information you can read more about the studies I mentioned in a very informative article from the Boston Globe entitled, How the city hurts your brain… And what you can do about it.

Additionally you can go to the Children and Nature website for a wealth of information. Through this site you can also get involved with creating greater awareness of this critical need.

And finally, Richard Louv is the author of, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. Following is a paragraph from this extremely valuable book.
“Nature-deficit disorder describes the human costs of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties and higher rates of physical and emotional illness.  The disorder can be detected in individuals, families, and communities. Nature deficit can even change human behavior in cities, which could ultimately affect their design, since long-standing studies show a relationship between the absence, or inaccessibility, of parks and open space with high crime rates, depression, and other urban maladies. “
We need to ensure our children have the opportunity to spend time playing outdoors. This additional post also shares the importance of play and laughter.  There is a definite need to focus on children playing outdoors. The National Wild Life Federation is involved with an effort to promote a “green hour” for children and the NFL is promoting “Play 60

Just like all of the other brain packets.... The Naturally Developing Brains Packet also provides learning activity ideas to have right on hand. This one provides fun ideas for brains while benefiting from nature!

Naturally Developing Young Brains!  -- www.BrainInsightsonline.com


For brain focused  play activity ideas to have available to use throughout your busy day visit  Brain Insights

Find time to enjoy a nature break for your brain or play with your child. You will feel refreshed!

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Comments

13 Responses to “Your Brain Needs Nature”
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Jessie said...

I have always noticed the difference between spending a day in the city and spending a day on the farm. It was always indescribable, and it is good to know now that there is a science behind it. I feel so lucky that our daughter gets to grow up in a rural area with an abundance of nature and outdoor activity.

March 17, 2010 at 9:03 AM
Deborah McNelis said...

Yes, it is great to have science to better understand and support what is best for our children isn't it?
I know that feeling you are talking about!
Thank you for your valuable comment,
Deborah

March 17, 2010 at 9:12 AM
Mark Morey said...

Hi Deborah,

This is so great ! I just gave a talk at the Royal Botanical Garden in Toronto on Children, Nature and Brain Patterning.

here is the summary of my talk: http://www.ifnaturallearning.com/blog/

keep up the good work !

Mark

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