By Jeffry Farman, past Global President, International Association of Conference Centres.
Meeting in the forest will make you happy.
With spring time rapidly approaching and the good weather on the way, it is highly recommended (from a scientific standpoint) to take your next meeting or business event outdoors. For the health of your group.
Nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to your mental and physical well-being. Here are just a few potential benefits:
1. Stress relief
Tensed and stressed? Head for the trees. A study of students sent into the forest for two nights had lower levels of cortisol (a hormone often used as a marker for stress) than those who spent that time in the city.
In another study, researchers found a decrease in both heart rate and levels of cortisol in subjects in the forest when compared to those in the city. "Stressful states can be relieved by forest therapy," they concluded.
Shiloah conference room, at CountryPlace. Floor to ceiling windows looking out to the forest
Among office workers, even the view of nature out a window is associated with lower stress and higher job satisfaction.
2. Improved concentration
We know the natural environment is "restorative," and one thing that a walk outside can restore is your waning attention.
In one early study, researchers worked to deplete participants' ability to focus. Then some took a walk-in nature, some took a walk through the city, and the rest just relaxed. When they returned, the nature group scored the best on a proof-reading task.
Other studies have found similar results — even seeing a natural scene through a window can help.
3. Sharper thinking and creativity
When college students were asked to repeat sequences of numbers back to the researchers, they were much more accurate after a walk-in nature. This finding built on previous research that showed how nature can restore attention and memory.
Another study found that people immersed in nature for four days (significantly more time than a lunchtime walk in the park) boosted their performance on a creative problem-solving test by 50%.
4. Restored mental energy
You know that feeling where your brain seems to be sputtering to a halt? Researchers call that "mental fatigue."
One thing that can help get your mind back into gear is exposing it to restorative environments, which, research has found, generally means the great outdoors. One study found that people's mental energy bounced back even when they just looked at pictures of nature. (Pictures of city scenes had no such effect.)
All this says much for committing to take your next business event to a forest location. Remember . . . meeting in the forest will make you happy.