EngagePerspectivesRhythms of Wellness, Nature
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Rhythms of Wellness, Nature

Being attentive to wellness, especially during quarantine, often means developing practices that balance work with the kind of breaks which allow attentiveness to the present moment. This is a gentle rhythm that makes work better and guards against burn out. Like a marathon runner who adheres to a plan that gradually builds each day while keeping pace, developing a rhythm around work with breaks can help to maintain an inner steadiness.

Woman watching the sunset

Part of my rhythm has always involved nature.  For reasons still inexplicable to me, just walking outside calms me almost instantly.

In his posthumously published collection of essays, neurologist and author Oliver Sacks writes,

All of us have had the experience of wandering through a lush garden or a timeless desert, walking by a river or an ocean, or climbing a mountain and finding ourselves simultaneously calmed and reinvigorated, engaged in mind, refreshed in body and spirit. The importance of these physiological states on individual and community health is fundamental and wide-ranging.

– Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales, “Why We Need Gardens” (2019)

To counteract the glare of screens and the two-dimensionality of Zoom, nature provides an instant remedy that “simultaneously calm(s) and reinvigorate(s).” We are able to be healed and awakened by outdoor activity and vibrancy and this can bring inner peace. And walks do not have to just be in the pastoral wilds that Sacks describes. Some of my best memories as an undergraduate at Penn involve the walks I took over the Walnut street bridge to clear my mind, the sky ablaze with color as the sun was setting. I am excited that this idea still resonates and is part of a new wellness effort at Penn. In these times of quarantine, I encourage you to get out and see what that does to your interior life. According to Sacks, it has implications for our community health as well.

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