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Hello, Spring!

Updated: Apr 21

Hello, Spring: Minimize Tech Overload, One Step at a Time!

Spring is here, the sun is shining, flowers are in bloom and a lot of us will spend the majority of our day indoors - behind a screen of sorts, accomplishing our goals, shopping online, checking off our todos or scrolling our way through the day.

This is a very different look than the spring season a decade ago. Spring season would typically reflect things like spring cleaning, new beginnings and for many a spring break of sorts.

Today, more than ever, our world is evolving. The everyday hustle and bustle has shifted over the past few decades, with technological advancements leading the way. Though this technology fueled lifestyle can be fulfilling and fast-paced, it can also be draining and cause much undo stress and fatigue.

One study published by The American Psychological Association (2019), found that long-term daily use of technology can lead to lack of face-to-face communication and social interaction, which can contribute to feelings of stress and isolation. Additionally, the constant use of technology creates a heightened state of stimulation and distractions, often leading to mental fatigue and raised levels of stress.

The Pew Research Center (2018) published a study that reflected excessive technology use can lead to sleep deprivation, increased levels of anxiety and depression and a more sedentary lifestyle. These findings suggest a reasonable concern for the future, in the way of how technology affects the world we live in and how and what we are doing to balance these effects.

It’s important to note that it’s not all doom and gloom. Studies have shown that many are in agreement with the idea that technology has provided us with many positives in our lives - such as improved communication, increased access to information, and everyday conveniences, to name a few.

So, with all of this, what can we do? What options do we have to help combat this modern world?

Thankfully the spring season is on our side, often symbolizing hope, a fresh start and the promise of warmer brighter days ahead, perfectly aligning with research-based ways to help alleviate some of the stress and fatigue of our modern world.

In 2019, according to research published in Frontiers in Psychology, Hunter and colleagues found that setting aside just 20 minutes a day to stroll outside, get some sun exposure or sit in a place that puts you in contact with some aspect of nature can significantly lower your stress hormone levels.

That finding, which researchers called, a “nature pill” has more significance today than ever before. Here are some of the many benefits one can experience by stepping outside and connecting with nature:

  • Reduces levels of stress - spending time in nature has been shown to reduce cortisol levels (stress hormone) and facilitate feelings of calm and relaxation

    • Improves mood - nature helps to lower anxiety and depression levels by calming the mind, relaxing the body and helps to release neurotransmitters that increases our mood

    • Improves sleep - daily exposure to natural light helps our natural circadian rhythm and to help regulate our sleep/wake cycle

    • Supports physical health by encouraging exercise - being in nature often involves walking, hiking or gardening, which improves our overall physical health

    • Helps one to live in the moment - being in nature is very grounding and provides us an opportunity to practice mindfulness (the art of being fully present)

    • Boosts immune system - some research suggests that spending time in nature helps to strengthen our immune system and helps the body fight off illness or disease

    • Helps one feel connected to something bigger than themselves - immersing ourselves in nature often creates a feeling of connection to the world around us, which in turn decreases feelings of loneliness or isolation

    • Facilitates social connections on shared experiences and helps to promote feelings of belonging and community

Here are a few simple ideas of ways to connect with nature:

  • Five minutes or less:

  • Step outside and sit in the sun

  • Noticing the sky, clouds, or stars

  • Take a break, step outside and do gentle stretching

  • Thirty minutes or less:

  • Go for a brisk walk or jog

  • Taking your lunch break outdoors at a nearby park

  • Gardening or tending to plants

  • Over an hour:

  • Hiking a local trail

  • Watching the sunset

  • Planning a birdwatching day

Yes, our world is advancing, and that’s okay, we can lean in and grow with the changes. However, it’s important to be aware of our technology use during this progressing time and how this impacts our mental and physical well-being.

More than ever, during the blossoming of this new spring season, embrace its vitality and freshness …

The idea is simple, take one step at a time, to get outdoors and connect with nature. The benefits on your mental and physical well-being will thank you!

Written by: Stephanie Gibson, M.A., AMFT 04/03/24

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