Happy Fall Semester! The lazy days of summer are over, and we’re careening forward into the exciting pace of autumn. As the days fill with school, work, socializing, and pumpkin-flavored everything, it’s easy to let autumn enthusiasm slide into over-booking yourself. Don’t forget to build in time to decompress! Your health, focus, and energy levels all take a beating from stress and its effects, making it harder to effectively learn, work, and yes, play. But does the very idea of adding one more thing to your schedule, even if it’s making time for stress-reduction, make you more anxious? Well, one strategy that you can fold in almost effortlessly is a little bit of “green” time.

More and more scientific studies have shown that access to green space can be beneficial to both mind and body. One project, for instance, found that “children with attention deficit hyperactive disorder, or ADHD, experienced a significant reduction in symptoms after they participated in activities in green settings.” Another study found that those who “lived in apartment buildings with trees and greenery immediately outside reported greater effectiveness and less procrastination in dealing with their major life issues than those living in barren but otherwise identical buildings.” It has even been shown that people who are ill or injured recover faster when exposed to green views than those in otherwise similar settings. Even passive green time helps replenish the body and calm the mind, especially important when we have so many other tasks that we want to actively tackle.

With all those other tasks in mind, you might be thinking, “Sounds nice, but how do I fit this marvelous green time into an already busy schedule?” How about simply moving your reading time outside? It’s a double shot of goodness, because a recent study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68% too. So grab your books or laptop AND get outdoors! By focusing your mind on a good book in a green space, it’s like you’re treating your brain to a mini-vacation.

There are some great outdoor reading spaces right here on the Homewood campus – the Decker Garden is perfect for those seeking a quiet corner, and the Bufano Sculpture Garden’s stone animal sculptures provide a whimsical background. The nearby BMA Sculpture Garden is also free to the public and open Wednesday-Friday 10 a.m. to dusk, and Saturday-Sunday 11 a.m. to dusk. For the more ambitious explorers, Baltimore has a variety of beautiful gardens and parks to discover. And, as the days get colder, you can still enjoy an outdoor view here on the Homewood campus from the Hutzler Reading Room or one of our very own cozy chairs in the BLC. Work in a little bit of natural time every day, and you can continue enjoying the rest of your routine.

“The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers…I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it…and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy.” — Willa Cather, My Antonia

Sounds good to me!

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