May 17, 2013

Nature's High

On Sunday evening I sat down in my office and had a burst of energy and clarity that translated into 2 very productive hours. Afterwards I was amazed by what I had accomplished and tried to figure out what changed that week since I had experienced this feeling a few times throughout the week.

After a few minutes of reflection, I kept coming back to how much fun I had during the week. Last week I ran along the bay, played golf, ran along a creek, worked out outdoors, practiced playing soccer outdoors, spent Mexican Mother's Day in Mexican Wine Country, played soccer, and spent American Mother's Day at the beach. That's a lot of time spent outdoors.

It's almost a week later and I am still riding that high. But it's not just me, if you spend some time outdoors you'll feel great as well.

"Nature is fuel for the soul, " says Richard Ryan, lead author and a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. "Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature," he says.

But I can't just go out and play all the time, I have to balance being out in nature with making progress on our projects. The trick is to work in shorter bursts, and lean into the ebb and flow of your energy. That allows you to be spontaneous and head outdoors only to come back indoors with a rush of energy.

What's working for me is getting in a couple of hours of work in the morning, having lunch outdoors at a spot where I usually run into friends, then heading into the office for a burst of work, and in the afternoon going out into nature with friends and family.

I am also finding that on the nights when I am not physically exhausted from swimming or soccer, I have the energy and drive to make good progress on a project in a short amount of time.

Nature's high is powerful, go outside and experience it for yourself.