No matter where you live, times are still hard for many people. In the U.S., the unemployment rate may have dropped from over 10 percent during the Great Recession to 5.5 percent in May; but in Puerto Rico, for example, it’s still over 12 percent with a poverty rate of 41 percent, according to 247Wallst.com contributor, Douglas A. McIntyre. According to Reuters, Germany’s recent drop to a 6.4 percent unemployment rate was less than expected; but it was still "the lowest since the German reunification in 1990."
In France, the unemployment rate is over a whopping 10 percent. According to The New York Times, the struggling nation is now crawling through “its longest recession since World War II, with youth unemployment hovering just below 25 percent.” One of the most embattled countries, however, is Greece where the unemployment rate is currently an astonishing 25.6 percent. The rate, more than double the Eurozone’s and European Union’s average, “compares with an upwardly revised 25.6 percent in February and 25.7 percent in January 2015,” according to Market Watch.
High-unemployment statistics, global poverty and fighting: It’s all enough to drive you crazy.
But, is there a way to take a “mental break” from all of the problems that exist in the world today? The answer is yes; according to new research that suggests that a series of “short micro-breaks” is a great way to get some relief from day-to-day struggles. The following explores how more green can be an option.
Today, many people simply cannot afford to take a luxurious vacation or even a quick weekend gateway. But wouldn’t it be great to at least take a mental one like in the 1990 action, sci-fi “Total Recall.” In the movie, Douglas Quaid, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, purchases a holiday from Rekall Inc.
Unfortunately, that option is not available in the real world. Besides, if it was, it would be so expensive that very little people would be able to afford to do so. Another option for a “mental break”, however, is to pack up and simply head outdoors, says The Washington Post reporter, Chris Mooney.
“In the past several months, a bevy of studies have added to a growing literature on the mental and physical benefits of spending time outdoors,” says Mooney. “ That includes recent research showing that short micro-breaks spent looking at a nature scene have a rejuvenating effect on the brain — boosting levels of attention — and also that kids who attend schools featuring more greenery fare better on cognitive tests.”
Mooney is referring to the new research, conducted by Stanford University, which found that a nice, leisurely walk in a park can provide a much-needed mental boost. In fact, the “cognitive neuroscience” study, says that the “benefits from a nature experience were captured in an experiment, but also that their apparent neural signature was observed through brain scans.”
Published in the National Academy of Sciences, the study observed 38 people who lived in metropolitan or big city environments, and who had “no history of mental disorder.” In groups of two, they were asked to take a stroll. One half walked around the serene environment of Stanford University’s campus, while the other half walked the high-traffic areas of Palo Alto, Calif.
“The result was that individuals who took the 90-minute nature walk showed a decrease in rumination — they actually answered the questionnaire differently, just a short period of time later, says Mooney. “And their brain activity also showed a change consistent with this result.”
So pack a picnic, strap up your sneakers, and head to the nearest park. While you are there, take a walk and observe the trees. Also, watch how the birds fly through the air without a care in the world. Most importantly, relax while you bond with nature. And just maybe, your cares will start to melt away— for a little while at least.