While some of my previous posts have focused on the disorganizing effects of screentime on the brain (e.g. Screens and the Stress Response and Wired and Tired), this article explores the flip side of environmental influences: the organizing effects of green-time. More specifically, we’ll look the research suggesting greenery improves concentration, impulse control and hyperactivity in children.
We’ve all heard the sage advice to “spend more time in nature,” but we don’t always follow it. Though virtually all of us believe nature to be therapeutic, it can be reinforcing to hear how this adage is supported by solid research—and might even push us to act accordingly. Researchers Dr. Frances Kuo and Andrea Faber Taylor out of University of Illinois’ Landscape and Human Health Laboratory have dedicated themselves to studying the relationship between physical environment and wellness. Below are some important findings and discussion points from their research on the relationship between greenery and ADHD symptoms:
Whether a child has ADHD or not, even mild mental health issues in children can cause inattention, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity. Here we have a natural intervention that can help avoid use of psychotropic drugs, promote overall physical health, decrease the stress response, support brain integration and development, and improve psychosocial functioning. What’s not to love?
And while these studies examine relatively short term effects of green-time on the brain, remember that “what gets fired gets wired.” Green-time promotes long term gains in attention and impulse control—domains which largely shape how well our brain functions, and therefore how well we function in school, work, relationships, and health. Green-time is a truly solid investment in mental wealth.
For more on rebalancing the nervous system, see Reset Your Child's Brain: A Four Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen Time.