Disconnect and Reconnect, and the practice of Hygge for good health and wellbeing
More than ever, as the Autumn days shorten, there is a desperate need for us to consider how our indoor spaces can help humans to flourish and thrive. It’s not just about trend and aesthetics, it’s about looking at what human animals fundamentally need when they spend around 90% of their time indoors.
We call this #FreeRange living, at work. Which in simple terms means taking the time and effort to look at our current spaces and make these spaces more supportive to human wellbeing. In the process of this greater awareness, we also want to encourage the need for a greater connection with nature and simply moving outdoors.
I was recently invited to participate in a podcast with Leanne Spencer, a coach, Tedx speaker and the Entrepreneur behind Body Shot Performance. She asked me to share my thoughts about going #FreeRange at work and why it matters.
After the podcast, I asked Leanne about her need to disconnect with tech and reconnect with nature and unplug.
This is #FreeRange living in Leanne’s own words…
When did you last disconnect from tech and your everyday life, with its associated pressures and demands? When did you last reconnect with nature and yourself? This might be a walk amongst nature, breathing, meditation or just spending some time alone or in companionable silence with a friend or partner.
Two or three times a week I’ll walk into work, taking the quieter roads and as much green space as I can. There are two parks I can cut through on my way to the office, and if I’ve made time, I’ll sit down on a bench and enjoy a moment or two of peace, listening to the birds and watching squirrels scurry across the paths. This a wonderful way to start the day, and I find I have a better day when it begins peacefully like this rather than rushed or sitting in traffic.
Every so often I’ll take myself off for a day (possibly several) to the woods and go for a long hike. I’ll make a point to sit for a while in the remotest spot I can find and close my eyes, or just sit and admire the view. For me, this is the closest thing to serenity, and I love being close to nature and wild animals. It’s also about being active in a natural environment too – movement is such an important part of our wellbeing and it’s a massive contributor to my happiness levels. Our ancestors were on the move all day – from the moment they woke to nightfall they would be on the move whether that was foraging, cleaning, washing, hunting or defending themselves against a threat. Our movement levels are a stark contrast to this, but we need to get back to more daily life movement. I make a point to stand often, walk a lot, and sit infrequently.
I discovered a new word recently; Hygge. Hygge is a Danish word that relates to enjoying the simple pleasures in life. For me, going back into nature is the practice of hygge. Stripping down the amount of stuff I have around me is another example. I love the idea, and will be doing more with it in the future. I recently spent 3 days in a remote shepherd’s hut on the grounds of a nature reserve practicing hygge, reading, walking and resting. Waking up to the sunshine flooding the hut, with nothing but the sound of birdsong was a treat. It was here that I restarted my gratitude journal – time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life is a good opportunity to kick-start or restart new habits.
Gratitude journaling is the practice of writing down things you’re grateful for each day. The idea is that it takes you out of self and reminds you of the things you can be grateful for. I think very often we become introspective and consumed with our thoughts, and expressing gratitude can take you out of that. There’s scientific research that shows journaling can have significant benefits on health. Robert Emmons, Ph.D is a leading scientific researcher on gratitude. He found that those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).
It was during this break that I had something of an epiphany, which has done a lot to change my thinking and how I choose to engage with life. I finally realised what my measure of a successful life is. It’s easy to get caught up in the trappings of modern life; the latest tech, property, opulence, cars, revenue, turnover, salary… Really, all of this can just mean you’re comfortable in misery. It isn’t any guarantee of health or happiness. What truly matters – in my opinion – is this: a successful life can be measured in the richness and variety of one’s personal relationships. Nothing else really matters. It’s about love and connection. For me, that connection is not just with people, it’s with the outdoors and nature.
Thank you Leanne and funnily enough my new work space is called the Hygge room. I’m fortunate to work in a space that’s beautifully lit for all my tasks, peaceful, energising, motivating. In fact it’s designed to be my personal space to live at work.
Happy Free Ranging,
Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2017