Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

The Cure For Stress Hidden In Your Back Yard

Chapter 8: Secure Your Community Part 13

We met Sebastian Tate, the balanced achiever, in Chapter 7. Sebastian takes his career seriously, and always wants to work at an interesting company.  “I would struggle working for a company doing cosmetic surgery just to get rid of wrinkles.” For Sebastian, work is decidedly not his community, and over the years he has surrounded himself with people who share his values about the relative importance of work and the rest of life. And every August for the last 20 years, they all get together for a men only camping weekend.

It started with friends he grew up with, and has “evolved to be group of people across different companies.”  Sebastian explained that sometimes “guys want to get together [only with] other guys.”  Sure, they hike and drink beer, but what I found particularly interesting were the intense discussions about life.  And I think it was the natural setting that facilitated the intensity of the community feeling.

There is something about nature that promotes tranquility.  People have a biological affinity to become more relaxed and healthy in a natural setting than they do in an urban setting.  Sound like an exaggeration? In 1984 Ulrich showed that patients with a window facing a park have a faster recovery from surgery than patients facing a wall.[i] Since then, numerous studies have shown  that access to green space reduces stress, improves cognitive function, and strengthens the immune system.[ii]  And green areas with water seem to have a bit of an extra benefit.[iii]

Of course anyone who has been on vacation to Maui knows that an ocean view costs more than a mountain view, which is more expensive than a “garden view.”  In this case, market-defined value matches what the science suggests are the most valuable traits for wellbeing.

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[i] View through a window may influence recovery from surgery. Ulrich RS. Science. 1984 Apr 27;224:420-1 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6143402

[ii] Green environments essential for human health Phys.org April 19, 2011 retreived December 23, 2012

http://phys.org/news/2011-04-green-environments-essential-human-health.html

[iii] In the green of health: Just 5 minutes of ‘green exercise’ optimal for good mental health by Michael Bernstein.  Phys.org  May 21, 2011.  Retrieved December 23, 2012 http://phys.org/news191999867.html#nRlv

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