Nature and Decision-Making | Dr. Will Ramey

Nature and Decision-Making | Dr. Will Ramey

Nature and Decision-Making | Dr. Will Ramey 800 600 OnTheStacks
Get outside to make better decisions
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The Top Five Benefits of Being Outdoors and How It Enhances Decision-Making Skills

I’ve had days where I go from building to building, meeting to meeting, and only see the light of day through the occasional window. By the end of the day, my mind is fuzzy, my frustrations run high, and I don’t want to make any more decisions. Unfortunately, my role requires a high cognitive load. One way to enhance decision-making is to get outdoor exposure.

In our increasingly fast-paced and digitally connected world, it’s easy to overlook the simple yet profound benefits of spending time outdoors. From scenic walks in nature to engaging in outdoor activities, immersing ourselves in the natural world offers numerous advantages for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Moreover, studies suggest that being outdoors can significantly enhance our decision-making abilities. In this article, we will explore the top five benefits of spending time outdoors and how it contributes to becoming a better decision maker.

Reduced Stress and Enhanced Cognitive Function:

Stepping out into nature provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life, allowing us to unwind and reduce stress levels. Exposure to natural environments has been shown to lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and a calmer state of mind. When stress is reduced, cognitive function improves, enabling clearer thinking, increased focus, and better decision-making skills.

Improved Mental Clarity and Creativity:

The outdoor environment stimulates our senses, providing a refreshing change from the often sterile and monotonous indoor settings. Spending time outdoors exposes us to diverse stimuli, such as fresh air, natural sounds, and vibrant colors, which can enhance mental clarity and spark creativity. These factors contribute to improved cognitive flexibility, enabling us to think outside the box, explore alternative perspectives, and make more innovative decisions.

Energizing Body and Mind through Physical Activity:

Outdoor activities offer more than just an opportunity to embrace nature; they inspire movement and exercise. Regular physical activity increases blood circulation, optimizing oxygen flow to the brain, and releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood enhancers. As we elevate our physical activity levels, our energy soars, providing a valuable boost to our decision-making capabilities. Scientific evidence reveals that those who engage in outdoor exercise regularly display sharper cognitive skills, improved memory retention, and enhanced problem-solving abilities.

The Power of Sunlight: Illuminating Decision-Making Potential:

Sunlight is not just a radiant source of warmth; it also bestows us with vital vitamin D. This essential nutrient plays a central role in regulating brain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which profoundly impact our mood and emotional stability. Research suggests that insufficient vitamin D levels contribute to cognitive impairment and increased vulnerability to depression. By embracing the outdoors and embracing natural sunlight, we can optimize our vitamin D levels, supporting the neural processes crucial for sound decision-making.

Heightened Connection with Nature and Increased Intuition:

Nature has a remarkable way of connecting us with the world around us and fostering a sense of mindfulness. Being outdoors provides an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the natural environment, which can inspire introspection and self-reflection. This connection with nature enhances our ability to tap into our intuition and gut feelings, essential components of effective decision-making. By trusting our instincts and aligning with the wisdom of the natural world, we can make decisions that are more authentic and aligned with our values.

Finding ways to get outdoors takes a little coordination and planning. Here are three ways you can be more intentional to get outdoors and improve, not only your health, but your decision-making.

1. Incorporate Outdoor Meetings or Walking Discussions:

One effective way for leaders to leverage the benefits of being outdoors is by incorporating outdoor meetings or walking discussions into their work routine. Instead of confining meetings to stuffy conference rooms, consider taking your team outside to a nearby park, garden, or even a rooftop terrace. Walking meetings not only provide a change of scenery but also stimulate physical movement, which can enhance blood flow and cognitive function. This dynamic environment encourages open dialogue, creativity, and a more relaxed atmosphere, fostering better decision-making by capitalizing on the benefits of the outdoors.

2. Encourage Outdoor Breaks and Mindfulness Practices:

Leaders can create a culture that values and promotes outdoor breaks and mindfulness practices within the workplace. Encourage employees to take short breaks outside during the day, whether it’s for a breath of fresh air, a walk around the block, or simply enjoying a few moments of solitude in a nearby green space. These outdoor breaks allow individuals to recharge, reduce stress, and enhance mental clarity, which in turn can lead to improved decision-making skills. Additionally, leaders can introduce mindfulness practices such as guided meditation sessions outdoors, further amplifying the benefits of the natural environment in nurturing focused attention and presence. How Mindfulness Helps You Lead | Dr. Will Ramey | OnTheStacks

3. Organize Outdoor Team-Building Activities:

To foster a collaborative and innovative work environment, leaders can organize outdoor team-building activities. These activities can range from adventure challenges, such as hiking, rock climbing, or canoeing, to more relaxed gatherings like picnics or team sports. Outdoor team-building experiences not only promote camaraderie and trust among team members but also provide an opportunity for individuals to step outside their comfort zones, adapt to new situations, and think creatively. By engaging in outdoor activities together, teams can strengthen their bonds, enhance communication, and develop better decision-making dynamics that can translate into the workplace.

Get Outside to Make Better Decisions

The benefits of spending time outdoors extend far beyond physical fitness and relaxation. Engaging with nature provides a myriad of advantages, including reduced stress levels, improved cognitive function, enhanced creativity, increased energy, and a heightened sense of intuition. By embracing the outdoors, we can cultivate our decision-making skills, making more informed choices in our personal and professional lives. So, next time you’re faced with a decision, consider stepping outside and allowing the power of nature to guide you toward the best possible outcome.

Looking for a personal coach to help you strengthen your self-awareness and navigate leading people? Let’s talk! Connect with me on LinkedIn Dr. William Ramey | LinkedIn

Interested in having me facilitate a leadership or team development workshop for your organization? Reach out or checkout my website: Will Ramey Leadership & Team Dynamic Workshop

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