Resuscitating Recess: Playing outside is good for everyone.
Recess is not just for kids. The science behind micro breaks and benefits of being outdoors applies to adults as well as children. While swinging on the monkey bars may not seem as appealing as it once did, the brain and body continue to crave breaks from sedentary activity that involve interacting outside. The activity may look different depending on personal preference, occupation, and physical location. Games of touch football at 1130am outside the office are few and far between these days. However, the principles of microbreaks, exposure to natural settings, and infusion of play can be applied in most settings.
Micro breaks are considered to be breaks from typical work activities that are under 10 minutes in duration. Ideally these breaks involve some sort of physical movement that increases blood flow and activates muscle groups that are dormant when seated. A systematic analysis showed that individuals who took micro breaks benefited from an increased sense of vigor and reduced their feelings of fatigue. Moreover, when breaks were less cognitively demanding, work performance increased. Combining breaks with exposure to the outdoors, ideally in a natural environment, is where a stacking of benefits can occur.
Spending time in a natural environment, even in short durations, positively impacts the body and mind in several ways. First, shifting visual stimuli from a computer screen to natural setting allows the eyes to relax, signalling to the nervous system that it is safe to transition into a parasympathetic state. A meta analysis on forest bathing (Shinrin-Yoku) highlights how spending time in nature reduces cortisol levels and perceptions of stress. The reduction of cortisol and stress levels is highly correlated with lowering blood pressure.
The positive effects of taking short breaks outside carry over to work performance. Walking outside appears to enhance creativity above and beyond walking indoors or remaining stationary. One explanation for why creativity may increase is that viewing, or ideally interacting with nature, is a strategy to restore resources. Once resources have been replenished, work tasks that require an expenditure of cognitive, emotional, or physical energy are less likely to cause burnout. Peak performance requires an abundance of available resources. Consider how microbreaks in nature can be implemented as an individually or ideally, organizational strategy, for improving well-being and performance.
Adding play to microbreaks is like adding creamer to coffee or salt to food: it adds flavor to the experience. Choosing to add an element to play to your break could be as simple of exploring movement in a new way, or seeing how many steps you can take in 10 minutes. Two ways play can be activated is through gamifying a task or applying the imagination. Traveling back in time to the playground during recess, the majority of activities involved one or both of these elements. In the context of work in urban settings, this may look like, walking through a park and imagining what it looked like 100 years ago. Or playing the age old game of avoiding cracks on the sidewalk. In the quest for well-being, health, and longevity, play remains an under valued activity and ability. A 15 years longitudinal study among adults in Norway indicated that playful attitude and sense of humor have been found to be correlated with longevity. A little play throughout the day can go a long way to living a longer, more fulfilling life.
Albulescu, P., Macsinga, I., Rusu, A., Sulea, C., Bodnaru, A., & Tulbure, B. T. (2022). “Give me a break!” A systematic review and meta-analysis on the efficacy of micro-breaks for increasing well-being and performance. PLOS ONE, 17(8), e0272460. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0272460
Antonelli, M., Barbieri, G., & Donelli, D. (2019). Effects of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) on levels of cortisol as a stress biomarker: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Biometeorology, 63(8), 1117–1134. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-019-01717-x
Oppezzo, M., & Schwartz, D. L. (2014). Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40(4), 1142–1152. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036577
Gliding into Glaciers
Gliding into glacier waters.
Awakened by a burst of cold in the high mountain heat.
Breathing in life through smiling pores.
Never has silence seemed so loud.
Insects and birds begin to participate in a choir.
Orchestrated by a pair of invisible hands.
Playing for an auditorium of rowdy spirits.
Playing for joy.
Particles move faster here.
Excited perhaps by the altitude.
Or the absence of dense thoughts.
They leap and flirt without regard to law.
There is no marshal here.
So limitations are neglected.
Mountain peaks twist into blue skies that are busy melding with pine needles, falling up rather than down.
To the trained mind the scene would be a mess.
Rather than Mass.
It takes forgetting.
To remember what you have forgotten.
That once upon a time. You sat on a balcony. Searching for the right role to play. Before jumping in.
Lifetimes later. You wake up and remember that moment. That initial leap. And laugh.
As earth laughs now.
Hooting and hollering as boulders perform a ballet.
For an audience of Trees.
Clapping their branches.
Standing tall in appreciation. Singing ancient songs.
Passed down from seed to seed.
To remind all.
That all is all.
Hades argues with Thor.
Horus rolls his eyes as Kirshna plots a prank.
Buddha disrobes and streaks across the sky
A shooting star.
Times were simpler then.
Time didn’t exist.
There was no end to games.
Creativity a current of golden asteroids
Bursting into fireflies of inspiration.
Each one containing a seed of light to be planted
That would grow into planets, galaxies, and universes.
An ethereal garden.
Tended by Lao Tzu with an all-seeing smile
Who spent his days watering with love.
Plucking inevitable weeds with a tender touch
And shooing Pan from grazing on budding life.
The garden is still there.
Hidden from mortal view, they are still amongst.
Chasing one another in play.
You can hear their laughter in the silence.
Reminding us to be light
Broad strokes with a bright brush
paving the way for a groovy ho down
are you down?
leave your head at the door
clear channels are here
no entrance fee other than committing to be
public dance floor is alive with action
tube socks are recommended for those prone
if it gets slippery out there
grab ahold of an alter
say 5 hail mary's
chant 4 oms
and trice bow to allah
its a good time to be human baby
tie dye is back as are trendy hats
the band just took the stage
they won't be getting off until the 5th sun rises
pass the peace pipe to your partner
let the jives tickle toes and pose questions
considerations relevant to reverence
sins are so 1500's
get with the times
the soul tide is rising
and this break will be righteous
Painted faces and open eyes gaze at the setting sun
Watching as their future fades into the ocean.
Children laugh and play
Tickling mother with their toes.
The elders can only stare
Everything will change.
Raven had told them so at dawn a decade before
Of the white man and the death he would bring.
Shaken, the elders had met and prayed.
They chose to prepare for death by living.
And now the day was here
Ships dotting the horizon rose as their hearts sank.
They gave thanks at that moment.
For Mother and all her children
Including those ships full of bullets and fear.
Blood staining stones and souls
Every drip burning holes in our
Screams until silence.
Did our Gods rejoice?
Getting drunk on our fumes
As we died for rain.
Human life wasted
On an alter of lies.
Like our faith in the king
As we destroyed our divinity
Pretending to be Gods.
If only the crown had been burned
Chaac may have answered our prayers.
What happened to the line in the sand that God drew? Was it washed away by ignorance? Or did he wipe it away, preferring to witness his creation discover themselves for themselves. I speak of him as if he is a he when in reality I have no idea. The closest I have come to knowing my maker was at a bottom of a pill bottle 10 breathes from death. Next time I hope to be better dressed.
The Rise of Soul in Social Media
The Rise of Soul in Social Media.
For many years the superficial has reigned supreme in the war for our collective attention. Fought on the digital battlefields of social media platforms, selfies, post workout pics, and faces that would make Zoolander cringe, captivated more of us than we would like to admit. Entire days of our precious lives have been unceremoniously sacrificed for a rush of endorphins delivered by meaningless memes, valueless vines, and goofy GIF’s. Many of us can relate to falling victim to mindless scrolling and clicking leading you unwilling through a web of connections before landing on your friends-sisters-friends-boyfriends-brothers-cousin Halloween picture from 2009. There is no shame in having survived these trying times. The dark age is over and change is upon us. Evolution is taking place right under our screens. Social Media is developing a soul.
Finding the begining of the shift will prove difficult. Some will say it was the cats. Claiming their antics that once drove us to ecstatic emotional peaks, eventually awoke us to the reality that we have missed three meals and at least two bathroom breaks as we compulsively consumed their meows. Others will point fingers to the “women of instagram” as the breakers of the camel’s delicate back. These women with their divinely sculpted figures, clad in the finest jewels, and skimpiest clothes, some will say that these women were the metaphorical angry girlfriend that broke their metaphorical boyfriends phone and ended the metaphorical spell. Regardless of excessive use of metaphors or the unknown origin of the shift, the fact is it is happening. For a number of reasons.
Our palate for content is being refined. With the abundance of options we are becoming more aware of what we really want. And no it is not Kim K’s duck face. Or ass for that matter, though many would say it is a work of art. We are seeking connection, discovery, and soul. We wish to witness a manifestation of the imagination that has never before been materialized. To see the world from an angle never before captured. Read a series of words that conveys a message that represents something you have always known to be true but needed to see it in this way to fully own your own brilliance.
Self-expression is becoming more complicated, intricate, and authentic. Peer pressure is pushing us to expose more of who we are, to be more vulnerable, more complete more whole. We are being forced to expand our creativity and comfort zone if we wish to keep up with the ever-accelerating train of “being trending”. As a result of that expansion the social atmosphere has changed. The air has become conducive to the creative’s, types who would normally happily remain in their burrows. We are now observing the emergence of introverts, rising from their dens to bless the world with their gifts. Authors, artists, photographers, misfits, madmen, and dreamers are dancing fearlessly on the collective dance floor.
The soul in social media has not fully formed; it is only beginning to emerge. We are seeing in its wake, that new platforms designed specifically with the soul in mind, are grooving onto the scene. As they do, the carvers of culture, wielders of worlds, and bearers of knowledge both ancient and new join their ranks, eager to rain in this new reign. The time is now to turn inside. Open all the drawers and compartments and let it pour out onto a page. Make room for the soul. It will be trending before too long.
Wrestled from sleep
A familiar image
Spreads across my mind.
Memories like Milky Ways
Filling the empty spaces
You are gone.
Yet you are here
We all are I suppose
But you more than most
Dancing naked in the night.
When you stare at the stars
Can you hear them cheer?
Has your heart healed
Enough to let in their love?
When you look in the mirror
Can you see it smiling back?
Happy to contain such radiance
If only for moment.
Rain falls inside
Sun warms our skin as we
Lay on the beach
Pouring out our souls into the sand.
Past and present
I choose the later
Despite pasts pouting
And the far off feeling
Of your soft skin
Despite the desire to scream
Your name across the
Deserts, forests, and mountains
That separate us.
4am has turned to 5
You are waving as your smile fades
Falling back into my heart
Where you will always lay.
Any player who says they aren't nervous is lying. You are minutes away from stepping onto the court in front of thousands of fans and unless you are a top 4 seed the majority won't be yours. You know millions more are watching at home thanks partly to the spirit of the tourney and mostly to vegas. Since the selection friends, family, and alumni have been coming out of the woodworks to let you know they will be watching which is really to say don't let them down.
Before the game, coach gives a pregame talk but you aren't listening. You have heard it all before and none of it matters. Not now. Now it is about you and your brothers whom you have battled with since 6am conditionings in August. Through 2 a days, 3 a days, winning streaks, losing streaks, empty home games, 8 hour bus rides, and coach's bullshit. Somehow you managed to stay together, connected to a collective vision bigger than any one man. Through it all you kept climbing together and what you have to show for it is a bond that can't be bent or broken. No amount of haters, doubters, groupies, or supports can infiltrate your sanctum.
In the tunnel you stand, arms around one another's shoulders circled around an invisible pool that has collected all of the blood, sweat, tears, accomplishments, setbacks, laughs, fights, stories, and passion from the entire season. As captain you step into the pool, channel all of that energy to remind your brothers one last time what this is all about. Us. Our team, our dream, our destiny. To pour our hearts contents out onto the court for the man on either side because you damn well know he will doing the same for you.
With that you run into the bright lights. Onto the court where 15,000 Duke fans chuckle at little Lehigh. Where millions of fans turned the channel having marked this game as over before it started.
You don't blame them. They didn't know. They weren't in the circle with you. They couldn't feel the power in our pool.
When you won, you weren't surprised. You had expected to win from the moment you drew their name. Because you knew the power in your pool. Others made a big deal out of the game. Calling it the greatest upset in NCAA history. You laughed at this idea. An upset.