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Research discovers happiness is found outdoors

Whistler executive coach concurs
Outdoor Obsession The David Suzuki Foundation reports happiness increases the more people spend time outside enjoying nature. File photo

The David Suzuki Foundation has discovered happiness. A report from the foundation has confirmed that a daily dose of nature boosts happiness and wellbeing — good news for Whistler.

The foundation asked more than 10,000 Canadians and 250 workplaces to participate in what it called the 30x30 Nature Challenge. Those participating were challenged to get outside for half an hour a day for 30 consecutive days.

Trent University Researcher Dr. Elizabeth Nisbet conducted the research initiative.

"We found that participation in the 30x30 Nature Challenge almost doubled their time spent outside during the month and reduced their screen time by about 4.5 hours per week," said Nisbet of the spring report. "They reported significant increases in their sense of well-being, feeling more vitality and energy, while feelings of stress, negativity and sleep disturbances were all reduced."

Nisbet reported the research indicated workplace participants said they felt more productive. Participants indicated a slightly stronger sense of identification with the natural world and a desire to spend more time outdoors. Many of those who took part in the challenge said they felt happier by eating lunch outside or walking through a park.

According to the foundation, the results of the challenge are consistent with growing evidence that even brief contact with nature enhances positive mood and reduces stress. Amongst the key findings from the study was the discovery that participants reduced time spent watching TV by about two hours a week while time spent surfing the Internet or reading email dropped by two and a half hours. As time in nature increased so did feelings of wellbeing and happiness.

The foundation is promoting time spent outdoors as an easy, low-cost way to improve physical and mental health.

The findings came as no surprise to Caterina Alberti of Crossover Coaching in Whistler. She said she encourages her clients to include time in nature as part of their efforts to make improvements with their business and work life.

"One of the things that works to make change for people, particularly in leadership, is a deeper connection to nature," said Alberti, enjoying the sunshine at Whistler Olympic Plaza. "I'm talking about an understanding of a spiritual connection because I think that has been severed in the business world just through the aggressive competition and the way we've been doing business."

She praised the Suzuki Foundation for challenging people to reconnect with the out-of-doors. Alberti said how one connects with nature is very personal and individual. For some, she said, it might be climbing Mount Everest, while for others the simple act of putting a tomato plant into a home garden might bring similar connections while producing happiness and inspiration.

"Nature is our great source of inner peace," said Alberti. "It flows naturally and we need to flow naturally so aligning with nature allows us to come to our peaceful place."

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