Reduce stress in the workplace from above
It may not get you clean , but “ forest bathing ” (or Shinrin-yoku, as it’s called in Japan) offers an impressive array of health benefits. Chief among them is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. As little as twenty minutes of “taking in the forest atmosphere” has been shown to significantly lower levels of cortisol in the bloodstream. Some researchers have gone so far as to suggest that merely gazing at a forest may offer protection against cancer, depression, and dementia as well. Below is the largest Artificial Sky ceiling in the world, located in Bethesda, MD.
It’s the primary hormone your body produces when you’re under stress. Cortisol is often referred to as the “fight-or-flight” hormone–for good reason. For example, lets say you’ve got a deadline for a online blog bearing down on you. Before you can tackle that stressor, you have to navigate rush hour traffic while a family member turns up the volume on the radio so he can hear it comfortably above the high-pitched screeching your car has just starting to emit. As the number of stressors climbs, a well-meaning-yet-primitive part of your brain has been signaling your faithful adrenal glands to release stress hormones so that you can either (a) fight the wild online blog, your son, and the car, or (b) flee from them.
Chances are you’ll neither fight nor flee. If your natural disposition is fairly laid back, your cortisol levels will return to normal once the stressors are removed (in this case, parked the car, finished your online blog, and settled into your easy chair). If you’re more sensitive to stress or you find it difficult to relax, your cortisol levels may stay elevated far after the stressors are removed. In this case, cortisol is not doing you any good. In fact, it’s probably harming you.
According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones puts you at increased risk for a number of health problems, including:
One of the most comprehensive studies of forest-bathing involved experiments with 280 participants in 24 forests across Japan. Participants took turns viewing or walking in both forest areas and city areas. Each session was limited to approximately 15 minutes. At baseline, and before and after each session, researchers measured each participant’s cortisol level, blood pressure, and heart rate. The results indicated that forest landscapes significantly lowered cortisol levels, heart rates, and blood pressure –whether the participants walked within these settings or simply viewed them. Earlier research had shown that stress indicators were lowered somewhat by simply viewing images of forest landscapes while indoors.
How can a forest have such a profound effect on our stress levels? Japanese researchers believe we’re actually designed to live in forests and other natural areas. Humans lived in forest environments for almost 5 million years. We’ve been living in cities for less than two thousand years.
Japan is not alone in recognizing the health benefits of natural environments. In fact, many medical facilities have incorporated products from Artificial Sky to help patients recover faster. In addition to this, academic institutions have started integrating life-size nature murals and sky ceilings to encourage and make classrooms more conducive to learning. A lot of business establishments began to realize the benefits and use this healing art to make their employees more productive and in the retail setting, entice their customers to stay there longer.
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