Get outside to make better decisions

Nature and Decision-Making | Dr. Will Ramey

Nature and Decision-Making | Dr. Will Ramey 800 600 OnTheStacks
Get outside to make better decisions
Research Back Approaches to Leadership and Team Dynamics with Dr. Will Ramey, The Leadership Dr.

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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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How Mindfulness Helps You Lead

How Mindfulness Helps You Lead | Dr. Will Ramey

How Mindfulness Helps You Lead | Dr. Will Ramey 800 600 OnTheStacks

Research Backed Approaches to Leadership and Team Dynamics with Dr. Will Ramey, The Leadership Dr.

Research supports that practicing mindfulness as a leader has unique benefits including higher focus, staying present in the moment, and increased emotional intelligence. We cover all this and how to practice mindfulness by breathing, body scanning, actively listening, and taking breaks. Let’s dive in!

What is Mindfulness?

The research and conversation around well-being and mindfulness in the workplace has definitely increased the past few years. At first, I was skeptical. I don’t have time to sit and breathe, let me power through. How is this really going to help me be a better leader? I hit a breaking point in my career. I wasn’t showing up as my best. My flash to bang on becoming irritated at work was pretty short. I knew I needed to make a change. I gave mindfulness a shot. It was eye-opening. Something so simple is so very effective.

Mindfulness is the practice of bringing one’s attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way. It has gained a lot of attention in recent years for its potential to improve mental health and overall well-being. But mindfulness can also be a powerful tool for leaders.

Whether you’re looking to improve your self-awareness, handle stress more effectively, build stronger relationships, or set a positive example for your team, mindfulness is worth considering as a leadership tool.

Connection to Leadership

The connection between mindfulness and leadership has been researched and written about by various experts in the fields of psychology and business. There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that mindfulness can have a positive impact on leadership skills, such as self-awareness, decision-making, communication, and conflict resolution.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Business Ethics found that mindfulness training can improve leaders’ ability to manage stress and make more ethical decisions. Another study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that mindfulness can improve leaders’ emotional intelligence, which is a key factor in effective leadership.

Benefits for Leaders

By taking a few minutes each day to focus on the present moment, leaders can gain a better understanding of their own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This self-awareness can help leaders make better decisions and communicate more effectively with their team.

Mindfulness can also help leaders handle stress and difficult situations more effectively. When faced with a challenging situation, it’s easy to get caught up in our own thoughts and become reactive. But mindfulness encourages us to take a step back, take a deep breath, and approach the situation with a clear and level head. This can help leaders make better decisions and find creative solutions to problems.

Benefits for your Team

In addition, mindfulness can help leaders build stronger relationships with their team. When we’re present and attentive in the moment, we’re able to really listen to others and show genuine interest in what they have to say. This can help build trust and create a positive work environment.

Finally, mindfulness can help leaders model good behavior for their team. When leaders practice mindfulness, they’re setting an example for their team to follow. This can create a culture of mindfulness in the workplace, which can have a ripple effect on the overall well-being and productivity of the team.

Practicing Mindfulness at Work

Leaders are inundated with distractions throughout the day: the ping of an incoming email or message, the knock on the door of a team member, the ring of the phone with a call, etc. All of these stimuli contribute to lack of focus and can take you away from the present moment. Here are five ways to practice mindfulness at work. They have worked wonders for me!

  1. Focus on your breath – Schedule time in your day to run through a short breathing practice. You can do a simple box breathing (in for 4sec, hold for 4sec, out for 4sec, hold for 4sec). Do six to eight rounds of this. Start by simply focusing on your breath. Take in the positive and exhale the negative.
  2. Body Scan – At the start and middle of your day take a few short moments to pay attention to how your body is feeling. Start at the top of your head, working your way down your neck, shoulders, back, and legs. Notice where you are holding tension and let it go.
  3. Actively Listen – When you have that phone call or are speaking with your team members or colleagues be fully present. Eliminate distractions and fully engage in the conversation. Listen to what is being said, how it’s being said, and why it’s being said. Being fully present will show that you are truly connected to your team.
  4. Take your Breaks – Get up, get away from the desk, and move! Whenever possible get outside. Immerse yourself in something else. Be aware of your environment. Pay attention to the thoughts coming to mind but, make sure you step away for a few minutes so you can come back sharp and ready.
  5. Practice Gratitude – When you closeout your workday find a win, thank a team member for something that went well, jot down what you accomplished today. Taking steps to deliberately seek out the positive from your day will allow you to be in the moment

Being Mindful as a Leader

In the fast paced highly competitive world of work it is easy to get stuck in the chaos. Practicing mindfulness does not take long to do, but leaders have to remember to do it. If you make time to practice mindfulness you will show up focused and present carrying less stress for your team. Isn’t that what you want to best serve your team? I can’t wait to hear your positive results about how communication, collaboration, creativity and overall well-being have improved!

If you are interested in taking a deep dive into proven practices, such as mindfulness, to help you overcome stress and reframe your mindset to lead at your best, pick up a copy of Hardwired for Happiness by Ashish Kothari.

Tap the Photo or link below to grab a copy of Ashish’s Hardwired for Happiness book!

Hardwired for Happiness - Ashish Kothari

Hardwired for Happiness: 9 Proven Practices to Overcome Stress and Live Your Best Life: Ashish Kothari

Reach out to connect on LinkedIn Dr. William Ramey | LinkedIn

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