As we are going into the tenth month of the COVID-19 pandemia, we are starting to master the art and science and science of social distancing. We have had no choice but to relinquish many of our habits in order to prioritize safety and health, not only for ourselves, but also for the sake of our loved ones. We have become experts at estimating a two-meter distance whatever the context.
Yet, we are paying a dear price on many levels.
The most obvious is that we miss the “contact” with others. We long to be in the same physical space as our teammates (at least with some of them!).
Of course, we are “connected” on Zoom all day long and organizing meetings has never been so easy and practical.
No longer do we need to drive to work or to external meetings. It’s all there from the comfort of our home.
But why do we feel a lack of contact despite being “connected” to others all day?
It all has to do with our senses.
How many of our senses do we actually use in front of a screen?
On Zoom, we can’t touch, we can’t smell, we can’t hear, and we can’t even see anything that resembles our teammates reality!
This lack of sharing through our five senses is called sensory deprivation or sensory disconnection, and it could lead to mental and physiological dis-ease, and many of us are distressed by this situation
However, there exists a safe space to meet with our teammates. This space is called Nature.
Why is Nature safe in times of COVID-19 pandemic?
For starters, it is infinitely easier to socially distance in a park or in a forest than in an office.
We can easily meet with our colleagues in Nature with plenty of safety margin.
The available space is limitless, the air is pure and we can respect the 2-meter barrier without feeling a wall in our back.
But as science has demonstrated, Nature offers us a whole more than safety.
Nature has incredible restorative properties for our health, mental, physiological and cognitive.
And it all has to do with our senses.
Research has shown that when our senses interact and reciprocate with stimuli from Nature, it puts our brain waves in frequency called alpha. It’s also called “relaxed wakefulness” or “flow” mode.
And what our senses need to allow us to achieve this restorative mode only exists in Nature: For example, our eyes need to see fractal shapes, our ears need to hear Nature sounds (birds, water), our nose needs to smell phytoncides (that trees vaporize in the air), our skin needs to touch tree bark or plant foliage.
In alpha wave mode, we reduce our stress level, depression symptoms, our heart rate, our blood pressure, inflammation in our body, while we improve our immune system’s responsiveness. And this is not an exhaustive list.
But beyond its restorative effects on our health, Nature has an immediate beneficial impact on relationships and group cohesion: one multisensorial Nature immersion with your teammates can improve self-confidence, sense of belonging, feeling of equality, group trust, depth of listening, level of respect and level of empathy.
By reconnecting with Nature, our Home, we reconnect with ourselves, others, and ultimately our Purpose.
Finally, reconnecting to our sensory awareness in Nature has shown incredible effects on cognitive and executive functions which is also due to alpha waves.
Firstly, Nature’s restorative effects on our brain improve directed attention, concentration and memory, which are so fundamental to our daily professional lives.
This is achieved through the central executive network that our brain uses for analytical processes we rely on so much at work.
On the other hand, alpha waves are our gateway to intuition, mind/body integration and subconscious information.
In Nature, we access alpha waves, unlock our intuition and our brain shifts to a processing speed 500,000 times faster than in central executive network (beta waves).
The demonstrated results are expanded capabilities for problem-solving, decision-making, creativity and learning.
We are humans living in an age where urbanization and progress have uprooted us from our true Home, Nature. As 70% of humans are expected to live in cities by 2050, this dis-connection explains the #1 health epidemic of the 21st century in the developed world: mental health and neurocognitive disability (including stress and burnout) which is already the #1 cause of loss of productivity in the global corporate world.
And as urbanization accelerates, and technology leapfrogs, this dis-connection will only get worse.
So this dis-connection from Nature and our senses that we are experiencing now is not due to the pandemia. It largely pre-dates COVID.
On the contrary, the restrictions of the COVID era are an opportunity to rediscover Nature and reconnect together in a space where social distancing is not a challenge.
In this safe and restorative space to feel genuinely connected with our teammates, we may discover reconnection with something so familiar and fundamental to our health and wellbeing. A gateway to our intuition and true cognitive capabilities may also be waiting for us when we get Home. A gateway to the brain processes our primitive ancestors relied on to thrive in unpredictable harsh living conditions because they constantly pushed the limits of their mental ability in alpha wave mode to sense the world and make instinctive decisions.
After all, unpredictable harsh living conditions is a perfect description for our VUCA world of the 21st century. We are back to trying to survive Vulnerability, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. And it would be an illusion that that think that our cutting-edge technologies will suffice to thrive in this new era.
So what if there was a silver lining to the pandemia for the long term wellbeing of humans and the corporate workplace?
Could Nature provide us a safe, restorative and fertile space to learn about resilience during the pandemic?
If you are interested in experiencing our guided multisensorial Nature immersions, please contact Natural Leadership. We also provide remote and virtual options.