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  • Perla Sofía Curbelo-Santiago

Recharge Naturally: How A Garden Break Can Elevate Your Day




Taking a moment in a garden, cultivating crops, or simply visiting the nearest park can enhance your focus and even improve the quality of your work.


This idea is supported by the Attention Restoration Theory (ART), which suggests that exposure to nature not only increases our enjoyment but also enhances our focus and concentration.


ART explains that we all have two types of attention: directed and involuntary. Directed attention requires our utmost concentration for tasks such as writing an essay, preparing a report, or even compiling a grocery list.


On the other hand, involuntary attention doesn't demand such intensity. When we retreat to our backyard to read, listen to birds, or admire our plants, we give our directed attention a break, allowing it to rejuvenate.



This is why many people report feeling relaxed and even having a "clearer mind" after engaging in outdoor activities or those involving plants.


Challenges arise when we overtax our directed attention. Our concentration dwindles, we make more errors in basic tasks, become more prone to irritation and frustration, and our productivity drops.


Green Tools


Gardens, backyards, and parks are "green" spaces vital for promoting physical and mental health. Even placing some plants indoors has been proven to have positive effects on our well-being.


Besides producing oxygen, plants scientifically help in filtering air pollutants. Being aware of their presence positively impacts our emotional and physical states.


So, harness whatever you have at your disposal for your well-being be it a vegetable patch, a terrarium, a balcony, or your community park. These are resources you can tap into for a break during your workday, whenever you're feeling stressed, or simply as part of your daily self-care routine.


Time and Activities


Your garden break doesn't have to be the same every day. To keep it refreshing, you can vary its duration and activities. If you garden, align your breaks with your gardening chores. Also, switch up the setting occasionally – today in your backyard, tomorrow in the community park.



The time you dedicate to these breaks will depend on the day, your commitments, and your tasks. For some, 15-minute breaks every few hours are enough to recharge, while others might need half a day or even a full day to feel revitalized.


It's crucial to schedule and plan these breaks to establish a habit and achieve the desired results: relaxation, improved concentration, and a better mood, among other benefits.


Where to Begin?


Make a List: Jot down all the activities you enjoy and find relaxing in a garden or park, like watering plants, pruning, harvesting, walking, meditating, or simply feeling the wind.


Identify the Spot: Determine where you can engage in these activities, be it at home, a neighborhood park, or even a room in your house. Some activities might be restricted to specific days and times, while others could be flexible.


Set the Duration: Decide how long each break will be. You might opt for 15 or 30-minute sessions twice a day or even an hour daily. It's your call.


Prioritize: From your list, determine which activities will boost your mood in short spans and which in longer ones. Perhaps reserve the lengthier ones for after-work or a significant project.


Schedule: Plan your daily or weekly garden breaks. If you use a digital calendar, set reminders. Otherwise, post a weekly schedule in a visible spot to remind yourself. Once completed, check them off. This action reinforces your achievements, boosts your confidence, and heightens your sense of responsibility.


Designing a plan for one or more garden breaks fosters a better lifestyle, prevents wasted time, and helps restore the quality of your attention.




Sources:



*For the Spanish version of this article, click here: Pausa en el Jardín.


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The author is the founder of Agrochic.com and is certified in Horticultural Therapy by the Chicago Botanic Garden.


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