Forest Bathing And Unconscious Bias

In May this year, Building Bridges Leadership offered webinars on “Zoom Fatigue,” with the idea that during the COVID-19 pandemic, we had all been spending more time in front of screens and on video conference calls than was healthy for us. Almost four months on from that time, it’s safe to say that most of us are spending as much time in front of screens as we were then – if not more!

Even before the pandemic hit, a study sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency suggest that the average American spends 93% of their time indoors.

As mentioned in last week’s newsletter, our brains take in over 11 millions bits of information per second, and yet we can only consciously process around 50 bits of information during the same time. So our brains are making millions of unconscious decisions – biased decisions – every second. And yet our world is evolving to take in more information all the time, through smartphones, pop-up notifications, “breaking news,” targeted marketing, and more. As well as things like “breathing breaks” that we talked about last week, how else can we step away from the bombardment of information, to still our mind, and to align our decisions with our conscious beliefs rather than our unconscious biases?

This Week’s Tip:

Engage in Forest Bathing. Find some time – whether it’s two hours or a full day – to engage in forest bathing. As Qing Li, author of Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing, writes:

“When you have been busy at work all week, it can be hard to slow down. You may have been rushing around so much you no longer know how to stand still. First, find a spot. Make sure you have left your phone and camera behind. You are going to be walking aimlessly and slowly. You don’t need any devices. Let your body be your guide. Listen to where it wants to take you. Follow your nose. And take your time. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get anywhere. You are not going anywhere. You are savoring the sounds, smells and sights of nature and letting the forest in.

“When it comes to finding calm and relaxation, there is no one-size-fits-all solution – it differs from person to person. It is important to find a place that suits you. If you love the smell of damp soil, you will be most relaxed where the natural landscape provides it. Then the effects of the forest will be more powerful. Maybe you have a place in the countryside that reminds you of your childhood or of happy times in the past. These places will be special to you and your connection with them will be strong.”

Read more about forest bathing, and share your own tips for stilling your mind and conscious decision-making in our Facebook group!

Published by Ian Jackson

Ian Jackson is the founder of Building Bridges Leadership, which works with individuals, teams, and organizations to create authentic community in the workplace. He also writes children's fiction and teaches creative writing.

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