Accessing nature’s time-warp: a simple remedy for our busy lives

Being connected to nature has amazing benefits for the body and mind, but new research has shown it can also regulate our sense of time

Have you ever felt like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? Then, you step into the countryside, and suddenly everything seems slower, more relaxed, as if time itself has shifted.

You’re not alone: recent research has shown that nature can actually adjust our sense of time.

For many of us, the constant feeling of not having enough time is exacerbated by digital technologies. The always-on connectivity extends our work hours and can make it hard to switch off.

Recent studies suggest that the antidote to our time scarcity might be found in the natural world. Psychologist Richardo Correia from the University of Turku in Finland has discovered that being in nature can change the way we experience time, possibly even giving us a sense of time abundance.

For instance, people are more likely to perceive a walk in the countryside as longer than a walk of the same length in the city. Similarly, people report feeling that time passes more slowly while engaging in activities in green natural environments compared to urban settings. Nature seems to slow down and expand our sense of time.

Previous research shows that spending time in nature helps shift our focus from the immediate moment to our future needs. So, instead of focusing on the stress from the demands of our time, nature helps us see the bigger picture.

This is partly because spending time in nature seems to make us less impulsive, allowing us to delay immediate gratification in favor of long-term rewards.

Why does nature affect our sense of time?

It’s well-known that spending time in nature has many health and wellbeing benefits. Having access to natural spaces like beaches, parks, and forests is associated with reduced anxiety and depression, improved sleep, reduced obesity levels and cardiovascular diseases, and enhanced overall wellbeing.

Some of these benefits might explain why being in nature alters our experience of time.

The way we experience time is shaped by our internal biological state and the events happening in the world around us. As such, emotions like stress, anxiety, and fear can distort our perception of time passing.

The relaxing effect of natural environments can counteract stress and anxiety, leading to a more stable experience of time.

Accessing nature

Heading out into nature might seem like a simple solution, but for many people, especially those living in urban areas, accessing nature can be challenging. Green infrastructure such as trees, woods, parks, and community gardens within and around cities are essential to ensure that the benefits of time spent in nature are accessible to everyone.

If spending time in nature isn’t possible for you, there are other ways you can take back control of your time. Start by closely examining how you use your time throughout the week. Managing your time can help you see where it’s being wasted.

Source: The Conversation

The article draws upon studies published and recommendations from international institutions and/or experts. We do not make claims in the medical-scientific field and report the facts as they are. Sources are indicated at the end of each article.
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