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Science Explains How Spending Time In Nature Boosts Kindness And Generosity

Science Explains How Spending Time In Nature Boosts Kindness And Generosity

According to research that has taken place in Japan, Finland and Texas, people who took walks or were shown images of nature were found to have a natural decline in heart rate. When stress becomes an overwhelming burden, it’s the exact opposite. If nature can reduce the stress levels riveting people’s lives, then generosity and kindness are bound to follow suit. When agitated, it can be difficult to take the time needed to make sure you are calm and collected. You might snap at your friend for something they said without even realizing it. Your nerve endings having taken the increased heart rate into a zone of animosity that can be quelled by visiting the wonders of the earth.

Participants in studies from the University of California have been done on kindness to see if kindness is more willing to be shown in nature. In economic games — The Trust Game and the Doctator Game — trust and generosity were measured. It was found that the people who viewed images of beautiful nature acted more trusting and kind than the people who were not shown them. In a separate study about kindness, individuals were asked to fill out emotional surveys while either sitting next to plants or not next to visually stunning plants. After the survey people were asked if they would volunteer making paper cranes, the researchers noted that the participants who sat next to the plants were more generous and willing to make more.

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This type of research gives a small look at the many values that nature offers, and the best part is, it’s everywhere around us. Think back to the times when you were younger and running around during recess, the imagination as free and wild as can be. Think of the times of playing in the park and being free, meeting other kids who were willing to play games with you. There’s a natural kindness that seeps through us when we are just sitting in the presence of nature’s landscapes.

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There’s a reason why people in cities are always viewed as standoffish. Everyone is walking around with massive buildings and through crowded streets. There’s trash laying dormant on the street, cars impatiently waiting for you to cross the sidewalk and a lack of the green embrace of the world. In my head I see cities textured in a gray fog. When I think of nature I see illustrious images with full colors and the world, instead of the man made towers that constrict and take away from that.

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The researchers from California also made the observation that positive emotions come from being surrounded by nature, which begins to emanate from individuals as prosocial and kind behaviors. Maybe the next time you’re feeling caught under and ready to snap, think of taking a refreshing walk through nature. Let the air blow through your hair and instill the generosity in your soul.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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