Green Time vs. Screen Time


I highly recommend the book Your Brain on Nature by Eva M. Selhub, MD and Alan C. Logan, ND. I used this book as an inspiration for a community psychology project during graduate school. My task was to choose a community issue and come up with a practical community-based intervention to address it.

The issue I chose was stress, and its not-too-distant cousin: obesity. I explored our excessive time spent in front of screens (screen time) and contrasted it with green time (any time spent outdoors). For most Americans, screen time is at an all-time high, and “the outdoors” is what you walk through on your way from your house to the car.

While far from a scientific study, my survey of the research indicated that an increase in time spent outdoors in nature is beneficial in myriad ways: decreased stress and anxiety, improved cognition, increased empathy, elevated mood, and faster healing (to name a few).

I created a program called “Green for 15” as a way to help people to increase their time spent outdoors. Knowing that most people are busy, over-scheduled, and time-pressured, it merely required a commitment of 15 minutes a day spent outside. And it didn’t have to be all at once! However, it did have to be intentional (i.e. you couldn’t review the day and conclude that multiple trips from car to building added up to 15 minutes).

I started with myself, my family, and whomever else would listen. My professor was on board, and implemented 15 minutes of green time into his day. Then, while creating the curriculum for Mindful Life Weight Loss, I included it there as well.

When I created Green for 15, I was personally spending far too much screen time, and not enough green time. What began as 15 minutes expanded to at least 60 minutes a day (currently). It has become a non-negotiable part of my day. Even on the busiest of days, I am able to fit in a 15 minute walk here and there, adding up to an hour by the end of the day. Small changes, big results. Give it a try.



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