I’ll admit it — I’m a biophiliac. I need nature. I always have. As a young girl growing up in a small town outside of Boston, I couldn’t wait for Saturdays to roll around so I could go out wandering in the fields and woods near my home. I loved sneaking away and being alone in nature. I felt such a sense of peace and serenity as the leaves crackled or the snow crunched beneath my feet.
It’s no surprise to me that there is emerging evidence suggesting that as little as 15 minutes in the woods has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Increase nature exposure to 45 minutes, and most individuals experience improvements in cognitive performance. It’s true for me. I do some of my best troubleshooting while I’m out hiking on a trail.
Nature calls to me more than usual this time of year. There’s something about knowing that summer is winding down and soon my family will be in the back-to-school routine that hearkens me to carve out some down time to get away and reflect on the year I’ve had and to think about what I want from the one coming up. I’ve never really been a January 1 resolution type of person. My cycle has always run with the start of the fall season.
I’ve recently returned to work after a week of mountain therapy. I hiked and ran and fished in the mountains of West Virginia. Out in the woods, it’s easier for me to be mindful and present with my family. With the soundscape of stream water flowing in the background, our walks together are more fun, and our conversations are relaxed and full of substance. The environment recharges my soul like nothing else. My connection with nature helps me connect with my family (and win at Scrabble!). I got my fix and returned to work rejuvenated and ready to tackle whatever the next big project requires.
For me, biophilia means spending time in the mountains and woods. Being there relaxes and centers me. What does it mean for you?
Christine Brophy, Director, mother of three incredible young men, cancer
survivor thriver and eternal optimist. When not found at her desk, she’s likely to be off for a walk in the woods.