Ready or not, here comes summer! More precisely, the summer solstice.
The solstice takes place at a precise point in time. This year it will be Friday morning, June 21, exactly at 8:54 a.m. PT according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. People usually refer to the entire day when this happens as the “Summer Solstice.” You could go to Stonehenge to visually experience the Solstice or closer – visit our client, the Salk Institute in La Jolla.
This is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, meaning it has the most hours of sunlight and the shortest night. Those of you reading in the Southern Hemisphere will experience the shortest day of the year with the least sunlight hours and the longest night.
The longest day of the year isn’t usually the hottest day of the year. Ever wonder why? The Earth’s atmosphere, land mass, and the water of the oceans absorb incoming heat energy from the Sun and store it. It gets released back as heat at different rates. Once water and land build up stored heat over the course of the early weeks of summer, they start releasing it back into the atmosphere. This is why we start feelings the hottest summer temperatures into late July, August, or even September. This is called “seasonal temperature lag.”
The longer hours and warmer weather naturally draw us outdoors more to enjoy it. And we’ve been telling you for years this is a GOOD thing! Once again, we have been backed up by science.
Research hit the news last week from the University of Exeter in England showing that spending just two hours in nature each week are significantly more likely to report good health and high psychological wellbeing than those who don’t spend time in nature during an average week. It didn’t matter how the time added up. This number was true for both men and women, for young and old, rich and poor, and even applied to people with chronic illness or disabilities. More time in nature didn’t make a difference.
Well, duh! We’ve been sharing this with you for years!
Scientific studies show nature is healing to our physical and mental health and reduces our stress levels. A National Academy of Sciences study showed people who walked for 90 minutes in nature (including parks) weekly have fewer negative thoughts and healthier brain activity than people who walked through urban environments. More research: people experienced a 50 percent increase in creativity after a few days on a hiking trip without any technology. Talk about working smarter and not harder! This is what summer is all about!
Everyone is getting his or her grill out of storage for barbecue dinners. Unless you live in a warmer climate where we grill year round. Instead of hitting the gym, people start hitting the pavement or the nature paths. If you’re more of a happy hour kind of person, you’re sitting outside. We smell the flowers blooming and see plants and trees at their colorful best. We enjoy a little more of nature and feel the natural connection we have as human beings to the living things around us.
The evidence is undeniable. Time in nature improves your health. So why not start now and make it your Summer Solstice 2019 resolution? Yes, it’s a real thing I just made up. Embrace your biophilic connection to nature and get the maximum benefits. It’s easier to do when the weather is so nice and there are so many fun things to do outside.
Here are a few ways to find two hours a week to get your dose of nature by incorporating some of these activities into your routine during the summer. Here are some of our favorites.
1. Take your lunch break outside. Stop eating lunch at your desk every day! Taking a break improves your focus and productivity, especially if you can get outside. You don’t have to go buy lunch at a trendy outdoor bistro. Take your lunch cooler to a park bench or drive to a pretty spot and enjoy.
2. Get flexible. Many workplaces cut back to a four day work week or half-day Fridays during the summer. Employee morale improves without shortchanging productivity and businesses save energy and cut down on commuting. If you can’t get your workplace to go with this plan, try shifting your work hours a little earlier so there’s still plenty of sunlight left when you leave work for the day.
3. Hold meetings outside. Nothing blows a nice summer day like being stuck in a dark depressing conference room. Why not move your meetings outside? Consider walking and talking during a stroll. If a group is too big to fit on a path or sidewalk, move it to a nearby park or plaza.
4. Ride a bike or walk to work. With longer hours and nicer weather, you might be able to ditch your car a few days a week. But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Use a park and ride or offsite parking close to your workplace then bike or walk the rest of the way. Make use of shared bikes or scooters (safely please!)
5. Work outside. While your laptop and beach sand aren’t the best mix, technology makes it a lot easier to be productive and enjoy being outside at the same time. Working outside will help you get in your weekly nature prescription. Take your tablet, phone, or laptop to a park, or drive to a nice spot and set up your favorite beach chair. You’re just a phone call away from the office in an emergency. Remember your sunglasses and sunscreen.
6. Play around. Scare up some co-workers and enjoy being active during lunchtime. Spend an hour shooting hoops, set up a net for volleyball or badminton, or head for a park and stage your own lunchtime bootcamp activities.
If none of these ideas work for you, we have a few more to help you embrace nature.
7. Bring the outdoors inside. If you really, truly can’t get outside, bring as much of summer in as you can. Open windows, or at least open blinds and curtains. If you don’t have a view outside, plan walking breaks past windows or into areas where there is maximum natural sunlight.
8. Flower power. Bring potted flowers to work and enjoy them at your desk all summer. Or bring cut flowers in from your own garden or get them at a farmer’s market to enjoy.
9. Set your screensaver to a summer scene. When you can’t see your way to daylight at all in summer, at least up your desktop screensaver with a beautiful summer scene: your favorite beach, mountains, national park, or anyway summer getaway. Scientific studies show looking at scenes of nature improve your mood and help your brain function better at work.
10. Add more plants at work! You didn’t think we’d forget this, did you?
If you need help bringing nature into your life, Good Earth Plant Company is here to help whether it’s spring, summer, winter or fall. All you have to do is call!