Why leaders need to be nurtured by nature!
Great leaders know they’re only as good as their teams. They prioritise the wellbeing and health of their workforce, their people.
But who looks after our leaders? We’re seeing higher levels of stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and burnout than ever before – and it’s no surprise given the challenging environment in which organisations are operating.
Can leaders find the answer to improving their personal wellbeing – and professional impact – in nature? We’re sure of it, as are many others. And we’re here to help.
Spending time outside and finding ways to bring nature into your everyday life has huge benefits for both mental and physical wellbeing.
Mental health charity Mind lists the following as just some of the positive benefits of nature:
- it improves mood
- reduces feelings of stress or anger
- helps us take time out and feel more relaxed
- improves physical health
- improves confidence and self-esteem
- helps us be more active
- reduces loneliness
- helps us feel more connected to nature
Psychological research, like that being carried out by University of Chicago by psychologist Marc Berman, PhD, and Kathryn Schertz, is advancing our understanding of how time in nature can improve our mental health and sharpen our cognition all the time.
But more and more of our working days seem to be spent inside staring at screens. There’s an argument that we’ve never been more disconnected from nature than we are at the moment, despite its many benefits.
I was interested in research from Lisa Nisbet, PhD, a psychologist at Trent University, Ontario, who studies connectedness to nature. I pulled a quote from her that said:
“There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human wellbeing. You can boost your mood just by walking in nature, even in urban nature. And the sense of connection you have with the natural world seems to contribute to happiness even when you’re not physically immersed in nature.”
And yet, we don’t do it. Or we don’t do it enough.
Senior executives are under constant pressure, that’s not news. But two years of turmoil caused by the pandemic and now the economic downturn, has pushed stress levels to breaking point.
The pressure on CEOs can have a significant impact on their mental health and wellbeing, according to global research, including researchers at the Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Stockholm 2020).
Apart from the fact stress is exceptionally bad for health, it can also be an invisible killer of your leadership performance.
You can’t just ignore it and hope it will go away. In fact, the more you refuse to tackle it head on, the more it cripples your ability to ‘be present’ and effective in your leadership role.
But now much time outside is enough to really make a difference? And how do you make the time for it in busy diaries?
In a sample of 20,000 adults across the UK, research found that those who had spent at least two recreational hours in nature during the previous week reported significantly greater health and well-being [White, M.P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J. et al.] Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. [Sci Rep 9, 7730 (2019)]
The conclusions are clear, connectedness to nature really does seem to benefit mood and mental health:
- spending time in nature is linked to both cognitive benefits and improvements in mood, mental health and emotional well-being.
- feeling connected to nature can produce similar benefits to well-being, regardless of how much time one spends outdoors.
- both green spaces and blue spaces (aquatic environments) produce well-being benefits. More remote and biodiverse spaces may be particularly helpful, though even urban parks and trees can lead to positive outcomes.
Here at Jane Fisher Associates, our Adventurous Leadership© Programme supports leaders to rekindle that spirit of adventure and get a work-life balance back. Our tailored programmes puts bounce back into our clients’ steps, helping them to refocus and rediscover the joy of leading once more, by taking them back into nature at strategic intervals, to help inspire them.
This year, we’re launching a series of programmes to harness the power of nature in both Northumberland and Iceland to support leaders’ wellbeing through both residential retreats and more local walking sounding board sessions.
We’ll show you how the power of nature can transform your approach to personal and professional wellbeing to make you more efficient and effective at work as a leader.
For more details, simply get in touch.19th January 2023