Have you ever found yourself feeling tired and burned out after period of working on the computer or concentrating intensely on something for a while? Maybe you intuitively knew that going outside for a walk or some time in the garden, or even just “vegging out” outdoors would bring some ease to your tired mind. Well, scientists have been studying this and have come up with the term, “soft fascination,” to describe that state we find (often outdoors) that restores and revives our minds after intense focus and concentration.
It turns out that certain types of activities need what is known as “directed attention.” Activities that require focus and blocking out distractions such as working at a computer screen, watching stimulating movies or TV, or completing tasks that take effort and concentration are utilizing your brain’s capacity to apply directed attention. If you happen to be multi-tasking, overstimulated, or working on a poor night’s sleep, you are applying even more directed attention to get it done. The parts of your brain that engage to keep your attention directed (frontal and parietal lobes), are the same parts that keep you on track in other areas that require cognitive control like managing your life, career, and household. The brain seems to have somewhat limited capacity for this type of activity. It can be quite tiring to your brain, and can result in poor concentration, reduced willpower, difficulty in making decisions, and may contribute to stress and burn out.
As an antidote to the attention fatigue resulting from sustained directed attention, some researchers have studied Attention Restoration Therapy. The idea is that allowing your brain to engage in “soft fascination” allows it to recover and reset. Soft fascination occurs when there is just enough stimulation to engage the brain without requiring it to concentrate too much. It is effortless, broader, more diffuse, and may reinvigorate your brain. Being out in nature is one of the best ways to cultivate soft fascination because natural environments can provide a comfortable level of stimulation, allowing you to gently engage your brain and your senses, in a general, expanded way. Taking a walk outside or relaxing on a park bench by a lake or creek and taking in your environment with your senses is more effective at recharging your brain than watching cat videos, taking a nap, or even going to bed early.
Immersing yourself in nature is not the only way to encourage soft fascination. Any activity that requires some attention (but not too much) and allows you to broaden awareness of your surroundings with a gentle focus can give your brain similar recuperative benefits, providing it is relatively quiet and doesn’t involve multi-tasking. The idea is that there is an activity or environment that is gently and pleasantly stimulating and that leaves enough brain bandwidth to allow for reflection. Whether it’s strolling in a local park, playing a game with a pet, tending your garden or house plants, or practicing forest bathing, connecting with nature so your brain has a chance to experience “soft fascination” will help keep your mind from fatigue and help you perform at your best.
At Satori Integrative Medicine Clinic, in addition to ketamine infusions, we utilize conventional and alternative modalities to help our patients be the best they can be, given what they have and where they’re starting. We also offer advanced nutrient therapy, treatment for complex pain, integrative medicine, and medical acupuncture. Dr. Stoner believes there are many paths to health. Her approach to patient care is to work with the patient to choose the science-based tools from a full range of medical traditions and alternative/complementary modalities that optimize their individual mental and physical health.
If you or someone close to you would benefit from our services, please contact us today to schedule an appointment and/or learn how we can help you awaken to a new life. We will work with you and your other health and wellness providers to truly integrate your care.
We specialize in treatment for those suffering from major depression, the depressed phase of bipolar disorder (bipolar depression), postpartum depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), and addiction.
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