The 40-minute brain reset to boost attention span

New study by David Strayer found that spending 40 minutes walking in nature (vs city) will increase your attention span and focus.

The 40-minute brain reset to boost attention span
Feeling scattered? Struggling to focus? If you live or work in a city, surrounded by concrete and constant stimulation, it's easy for your attention span to feel fried. The good news? There’s a very easy (and quick) way to reset your focus. Oh, and it’s free.

Biophilia: the human-nature connection

Biophilia is the idea that humans have an innate, biologically-driven need to interact with nature and other living things. Biophilia translates to “love of life,” and describes the human-nature connection that can influence our mental health, brain function and our hobbies.
When we’re asked to think of an environment we feel at ease, calm and relaxed - 90% of us would describe a natural environment such as near the sea or in a forest. But with increased urbanisation and technology, the distance between us and nature is increasing.
There’s mountains of evidence that show the benefits of nature on reducing stress and boosting mood and creativity. And this is based on the fundamental theory of biofillia - that our connection to nature has the power to influence us both physically and mentally.
“There’s an idea called biophilia that basically says that our evolution over hundreds of thousands of years has got us to have more of a connection or a love of natural living things,”

Focus and attention in nature vs city

A recent study by researchers David Strayer and Amy McDowell at Utah University delved into the effects that nature has on attention span. After depleting attentional reserves of the participants (by counting backwards from 1,000 by sevens), they compared the effects of walking in a natural setting (trees and streams), to walking in an urban environment (buildings and concrete). Both walked the same duration, with the same physical exertion.
The results were clear: after 40 minutes, participants who walked in nature showed a measurable improvement in their ability to direct their attention and filter out distractions. Those who walked in the city, however, didn't experience a cognitive boost.
This shows suggests that nature has a real, measurable impact on our brains, that can out-perform physical exercise. Spending time in green spaces seems to help us reset our focus and attention, which is crucial for productivity, learning, and overall well-being.
So, how can you incorporate this brain-boosting nature break into your day?

The 40 minute reset

If you’re struggling to focus or suffering from decision fatigue, walking in nature for 40 minutes could be all you need to reset your brain.
  1. Switch off your phone, or pop it on do not disturb
  1. Head to a nature dense area like a trail, forest, beach or green park
  1. Spend 40 minutes with no distractions and just wander
How you can incorporate more nature into your week
  1. Swap your lunch break stroll for a walk in a park. Most cities have green spaces, even if they're small. Seek out a park, community garden, or even a quiet tree-lined street.
  • Plan a walking meeting with a colleague. Instead of sitting in a conference room, take your brainstorming session or catch-up to a local park.
  • Start your day with a nature walk. Even a short walk before work can help you clear your head and improve your focus for the day ahead.
The next time you're feeling overwhelmed or struggling to concentrate, remember: a 40-minute dose of nature might be just the reset your brain needs.

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