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能激发工作效率 又能愉悦身心的是什么?

更新时间:2019/3/28 19:21:40 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Why walking makes you a better worker
能激发工作效率 又能愉悦身心的是什么?

“Come to the woods, for here is rest,” wrote John Muir, the 19th Century Scottish-American naturalist who was one of the earliest advocates of US national parks.

19世纪美籍苏格兰裔自然主义作家、最早倡议开发美国国家公园者之一缪尔(John Muir)曾写道:“到森林里去吧,那里是最好的休息之地。”

Muir spent large chunks of his life exploring Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada, and wrote prolifically of his belief in nature’s nourishing role, saying: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

缪尔将大量的精力投入到了探索优胜美地(Yosemite)国家公园和内华达山脉(Sierra Nevada)之中。他撰写了大量的作品,来赞颂大自然的滋养作用。他说,美乃人生之必需品,犹如面包、游乐场、祈祷之所一样,大自然具有疗愈能力,能使人身心愉悦。

And it seems like Muir was on to something: there is mounting evidence that spending time in nature makes us healthier and happier.

如今看来,缪尔的话不无道理:许多研究证据表明,走进自然,能让人们更加健康、更加快乐。

It’s something many people feel instinctively. But we’re busy at work, distracted by technology and often live in urban environments far from wild spaces. We also don’t get out much: the average American, for example, spends about 90% of their life indoors.

其实很多人都有这种感觉,只是人们忙于工作,无法从电脑中脱身。如今的人们大多生活在都市里,远离野外环境。甚至都很少出门:以美国为例,普通人一般有90%的时间,是待在室内的。

But what happens if we make time for an hour outside each day? Does it matter where we go, and what’s the value of shoehorning outside time into a busy work schedule?

如果每天花上一小时去户外走走,生活会有怎样的改变呢?去哪里重要吗?从工作中硬挤出来的户外活动时间,究竟起到什么样的作用呢?

What does nature do for you?

大自然的影响

There are some obvious benefits to going outside. You’ll have to stand up and move, which is beneficial if most of your day involves sitting in front of a screen. Research shows short breaks can boost engagement at work, and a quick break in natural light will deliver a shot of vitamin D.

显然,户外活动好处不少。有些人每天坐在屏幕前,实时的站起来活动活动就很有好处。更有研究表明,适当的户外休息后,人们能更好的投入到工作中去,而且阳光有利于补充维生素D。

So far, so positive. But based on a growing body of research comparing how we react in urban and natural settings, the kind of open-air environment you seek out matters too: green and blue spaces trump busy city streets.

户外活动确实有益。然而,比较了人类对于城市和自然环境的反应后,越来越多的研究表明,"户外"的环境也很重要:碧水蓝天比喧哗的都市街道对人们有更多的好处。

“Generally the research tells us that when people are exposed to the natural environment and natural features, they tend to have a reduced stress response. When you are out in nature you have lower blood pressure, better heart rate variability, better mood,” says Lisa Nisbet, associate professor in the psychology department at Canada’s Trent University.

加拿大特伦特大学心理系的副教授尼斯比特(Lisa Nisbet)说:“一般的研究只证明了在自然环境中时,人们的应激反应能力会下降。身处大自然中,人的血压会降低,心率变缓,心情也会更好。”

“There’s also a lot of work on the psychological benefits of being in nature – on wellbeing and on cognitive functioning. In general people are happier in nature. Happiness is a very broad concept and so we measure things like positive and negative emotions, people’s sense of vitality and being energised and also how satisfied they are with life,” she says. “When people are immersed in natural places, even in urban nature, people tend to have more positive emotions and vitality than when they are indoors.”

她说:“科学家还研究了自然环境对人心理健康的好处,无论是自身幸福感还是认知功能都有影响。总的来说,身处大自然中时,人们会更加快乐。'快乐'一词意思很广,因此我们采用了其它的评判标准,例如积极情绪和负面情绪、个人的活力、以及对生活的满意程度等。人们在户外环境中比待在室内时(即便不是野外),情绪会更加昂扬,人也会兴致勃勃。”

The idea that nature is good for us has been gaining ground since the 1980s. First came the biophilia hypothesis, the theory that humans have an innate desire to connect with nature, followed by shinrin-yoku, the Japanese concept that absorbing the atmosphere in forests can benefit your health. Researchers of shinrin-yoku have since identified a raft of physiological and psychological benefits, while globally studies suggest time in nature can, for example, restore our ability to focus, increase creativity, lower the risk of depression and even help us live longer.

自然有益这一观点,从上世纪80年代起便开始受到认同。这一观点起源生物学假说,该理论认为,人类有一种与生俱来的与自然联系的欲望。这之后出现了日本的森林浴,说的是森林环境有助于人类健康。自此以后,研究人员展开了一系列的研究,已经确定了森林疗法的多种生理和心理的益处。全球的研究表明,同大自然相处时,人们能重新集中注意力,汇聚创造力,甚至能降低罹患抑郁症的风险,生活健康长寿。   

Of course, many of us live in cities with no ready access to forests or wilderness. But as Nisbet says, it doesn’t have to be a forest – multiple studies have shown that green environments in cities have beneficial effects.

当然,很多人生活在都市,并不能随时去野外,接触森林。但是尼斯比特说,并不是非要去到森林之中——多项研究证明,城市中的绿色环境也有同样的效果。

A five-minute dose

五分钟的疗效

Jo Barton, of the School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences at the University of Essex in the UK, works on “green exercise”, the idea that being active in nature delivers health benefits. In one study, she looked at what “dose” of nature was needed to deliver a mental health boost.

任职于英国埃塞克斯大学的体育、康复和运动科学学院的巴顿(Jo Barton),目前正在进行“绿色运动”的研究,也就是多多接触自然有益身体健康。其中有一项研究,她检测人们要达到心理健康需要补充多少“剂量”的自然。

The longer, the better, you might assume. But in the study of 1,252 participants engaged in activities like walking and gardening, Barton found that when it came to self-esteem and mood, the biggest improvements came in the first five minutes of exposure to nature.

有人会认为,当然是越多越好。巴顿对1252名热爱户外运动和从事园艺工作的人开展调查后发现,事实并不是如此。在接触自然的前五分钟,人们提升自尊和改善情绪的速度是最快的。

“Clearly we saw positive effects for all durations but the biggest was those first five minutes, just when you are looking at psychological health,” she says.

她说:“当然,在自然环境之中,积极作用是不会停止的。但在头五分钟里,我们感受到心理变化是最大的。”

She believes that the rapid boost may be driven by the transition to a green environment, and the way nature helps us switch from voluntary attention, which requires focus and energy, to involuntary attention, which requires minimal effort, allowing us to recover from mental fatigue. “Exposure to nature is really good at facilitating those changes very quickly,” she says.

她认为,情绪状态的快速好转可能是绿色环境的功劳。自然中,我们集中注意力的方式发生了改变,从需要耗费精力的集中方式,变为自然而然的集中方式,不需要耗费精力,这就让我们从心理疲惫中恢复过来。巴顿说:“接触大自然真的非常有利于迅速促成这些变化。”

Barton also found that the results were comparable across urban green, countryside and woodland environments, while the presence of water generated greater improvements. The take-home for city dwellers is that if you can’t get to a rural idyll for a hike, a short trip to your local park will pay dividends.

巴顿还发现:城市绿地、乡村和林地环境,这三种环境结果是相似的。如果环境中有小溪或河流,则会加快心情恢复的速度。城市居民很难在乡村田园进行徒步行走,那么在当地的公园散步,也是有裨益的。

It may also be a productivity hack. One study in Finland examining how lunch-hour activities help workers rebound from job stress suggests a short nature hit can boost performance. Researchers asked some people to walk for 15 minutes in the park and others to do indoor relaxation exercises for two weeks in spring and autumn, while a control group continued with lunchbreaks as normal. The results in the autumn intervention were interesting.

这个发现,可能会成为提升生产力的新方法。芬兰有一项研究,调查员工是如何在午间休息时,从工作的压力中恢复过来的。研究显示,和大自然的短暂接触,能大大提升工作效率。研究人员设置了两个对照组:一组是在公园散步15分钟左右,还有一组是在室内做放松运动,另外一个对照组的人员,午间休息活动依照往常不变。实验分别在春季和秋季进行,一共进行了两周时间。秋季实验的研究结果耐人寻味。

“To our surprise these park walks were as effective and as beneficial as these relaxation exercises,” says Kalevi Korpela, professor of psychology at Finland’s Tampere University. The park-walking group felt more relaxed and detached from work, and enjoyed the break more. “The relaxation group experienced only an increase in their feelings of relaxation.”

“让我们惊讶的是,去公园里散步和做舒缓运动的效果是一样的。实验中发现在公园里散步,人们会感到更放松,更远离工作,更享受这个短暂的休憩时间,做舒缓运动的小组则只感受到了一种情绪上的放松。”

Both groups showed higher levels of concentration and lower strain in the afternoon. Both activities, the study concluded, “may assist employees in replenishing the resources needed to perform well on the job during the working day”.

这两个实验小组,下午工作时注意力更集中,而且也更为放松。实验得出的结论是,两种活动“都能帮助员工重获工作状态。”

Underestimating nature’s power

低估自然的魔力

But it seems the idea that nature packs a punch isn’t getting through to everyone: one recent US survey found that 35% of office workers spend just 15 minutes outside each day.

但是,自然的力量并不是对所人都有效果:最近一项美国的研究显示,有35%的办公室职员,每天在户外的时间只有15分钟左右。

Lisa Nisbet suggests that a failure to appreciate how good nature is for us may be partly to blame. She carried out a study at Carleton University in Ottawa, where students use tunnels to cross the campus in winter. Participants were asked to take a short walk either via the tunnels or outside on a route that included a canal-side path.

尼斯比特认为,不能发现大自然的好处,部分原因是因为我们自已。她在渥太华卡尔顿大学开展了一项研究,卡尔顿的冬天,学生只能通过地下通道穿梭于校园之间。参与这项实验的学生被分成两组,一组使用地下道通行,另一组必须在户外行走,途中会经过一条运河。

“We found that people were significantly happier when they walked outdoors, even for 15 minutes,” says Nisbet. But that raised a question: why weren’t they doing it more? Why did people still use the tunnels in warmer weather, given they were no more direct? Nisbet then looked at people’s expectations of walks in different environments, asking them to predict how they would feel.

尼斯比特说:“我们发现,虽然这段路只有15分钟,走户外的学生还是要开心得多。”这就产生了一个问题:即使是这样为什么走户外的人这么少呢?为什么大家更喜欢走温暖的地下通道,即使它要拐好几个弯。随后,她询问了两组实验人员,让他们预测自己的感受。

“When they asked people after the walk how they felt, people had underestimated how happy they were when they were on the outdoor walk.  In other words, people thought it would be good, but it was significantly better than they expected,” she found.

她说:“实验后,我们询问了大家的感受。在户外行走的人都说,他们根本没想到这种体验有这么愉悦。换句话说,人们是没有想到这种体验能够远超预期的。”

She believes that if we start seeking out nature, it can quickly become an important part of our lives. “Because of the mood-boosting effects of nature, it should become reinforcing. If we’re experiencing things that make us happy, then we’ll be motivated to seek out those places more.”

尼斯比特深信,一旦开始接触自然,它就会成为我们生活中的重要组成部分。她说:“自然能够提升情绪,我们要好好利用这一点。凡能让人开心的事,人们一定会经常去体验的。”

Walk and talk?

边走边谈

So what simple ways are there to make nature part of a workday routine? If you work at a tech giant, then problem solved: Microsoft has built treehouse meeting areas for employees, Amazon has The Spheres, three plant-filled domes where 800 employees can “think and work differently”, and Adobe has built a running track on the roof of its London office.

那么,如何在工作的间隙,用最简洁的办法接触到自然呢?如果你在一家高科技公司工作,这就不成问题:微软打造了树屋,员工可以在里面开会;亚马逊则有“球体”(The Spheres),三个圆顶建筑里边种满了绿植,能够容纳800个员工,在这里,他们能够“以一种不同的方式工作和思考”;Adobe公司的伦敦办公室甚至在楼顶建了一圈跑道。

But there are cheaper options. “What we tend to promote here is the walk-and-talk meeting,” says Barton. “Not eating into your work time, just changing where you meet so you’re outdoors.”

但也有成本更低的其它选择。巴顿说:“我们想推广一种边走边谈的工作模式。我们不是鼓励员工在工作时间吃东西,只是想把工作地点搬到户外。”

Windows with a view of nature can improve productivity and wellbeing, she adds, as can having plants in the workplace. Some companies are also adding outdoor meeting rooms or pods – US retailer LL Bean attracted attention when it launched its outdoor pop-up work spaces last year.

她补充道,开一扇窗户面对自然美景,员工的工作效率和幸福感就能提升不少。办公室放一些绿色植物也能起到一定的效果。也有一些公司在户外搭建了会议室和会议舱。去年美国零售品牌里昂比恩公司(LL Bean)发布了临时户外工作区,成为公众讨论的热点。

But workers should also introduce small, regular exposures that become a habit – like parking further away from work and walking in via a green space, or eating lunch in the park. “I think that means breaking it down into smaller chunks rather than finding a whole hour in one go,” says Barton. It seems more manageable if it’s broken down, she says, and it’s about breaking up the nature time throughout the day so you are maximising the benefits.

当然,公司也需要鼓励员工培养一种习惯,定期到户外活动——比如把车停得远一些,尽量走有绿地的路,还有到公园里吃午餐等等。巴顿说:“比起花一小时整块的时间,不如利用零碎时间。”她认为碎片化的时间更易于管理,而且把一天中的时间分解开来,这样才能最大限度的利用这些时间接触自然。

Korpela notes that short interventions – like walking in a park for two weeks – provide short-term benefits; for long-term gains the activity needs to become entrenched. And he says research indicates that when it comes to long-term wellbeing, physical activity in nature trumps having greenery or a nature view at work.

科贝拉说,短期的干预措施,比如去公园散步两周,能够在短期内受益;如果要保持长期健康,就必须养成良好的户外运动习惯。研究表明,就长期的健康而言,在大自然环境中的户外运动,要比在办公室享受绿植和看外面的风景有益的多。

But he says even short-term effects may be important for preventing the accumulation of long-term stress. “Short-term exposures are like cutting the effects of stress for a while and this itself may have positive long-term effects. More studies on this are needed.”

但他还认为,预防长期压力,保持短期快乐也是很重要的。他说:“短期接触自然,就像是暂时把压力消除掉一样,这本身也会产生积极的长期影响。就这方面而言,还需要更多的研究。”

Either way, it’s clear that seeking out natural settings amid the concrete of modern life is well worth doing. Or, as John Muir put it: “Keep close to nature's heart... and break clear away, once in a while… Wash your spirit clean.”

现代人们生活在钢筋水泥的环境中,去接触一些大自然,无论是长期还是短期,都是非常值得的。正如缪尔所言:“紧贴自然之心……逃离城镇,间或洗涤心灵。”

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