Articles Tagged with: wellness

Is Your Brain Tired? Let It Rest with Soft Fascination

A tired brain at the end of a work day is a universal experience. This is especially true if you spend your days hyper-focused on your tasks. It’s no surprise, considering that the brain takes a lot of energy and resources to maintain focus and ignore distractions.

But here’s the thing – your brain needs real rest. And by real rest, we mean a total break from directed attention. No staring at your computer or mobile phone. Even reading is sometimes a no because, as enjoyable as it can be, it still requires focus.

Otherwise, the exhaustion can take over, making it harder to get in the zone and stay focused the next time. Your willpower and ability to make sound decisions also take a hit when your brain is tired.

So what’s the best way you can let your exhausted brain rest? It’s by engaging in something called soft fascination.

Soft fascination is a key concept in Attention Restoration Theory.

Attention Restoration Theory (ART) is a principle in environmental psychology that states that we can replenish our depleted mental resources by spending time in nature. According to this theory, we can restore our tired brains by going through several states of attention.

Among these states of attention is soft fascination. Soft fascination means allowing nature to engage and gently stimulate the brain without any directed focus. In other words, it means letting your brain go idle while you’re in a natural environment.

How does soft fascination work? There are plenty of studies out there that support ART and its effect in the workplace. But researchers have yet to figure out precisely how spending time in nature reinvigorates the brain. Experts believe that, unlike with directed focus, experiencing nature doesn’t require a lot of mental resources. Thus, with a lighter cognitive load, the brain can rest.

There’s more to brain restoration than spending time in nature.

Don’t be in a hurry to pack your hiking shoes and camping gear just yet. There’s more to soft fascination than being in a natural setting, and staying in a natural setting isn’t always guaranteed that your brain will feel restored.

According to ART, some conditions must be met before your brain can take advantage of nature’s restorative powers. These include:

  • Total detachment from whatever worries you or drains your energy. Leave them behind. You may even have to turn off your cell phone.
  • The absence of hard distractions such as bright lights, sudden noises, or responsibilities. You may have to leave your partner and kids at home.
  • Familiarity with the environment. You have to feel comfortable and safe in your spot.
  • The desire to be there. You’ll only feel stressed if you’re in a place you don’t want to be. For example, if you prefer going to the beach instead of camping in the forest, head for the beach.

No worries, no drama, and you love where you’re at. That’s the sweet spot when soft fascination is most likely to work in restoring your exhausted brain.

What if you physically can’t get away?

Do you need to go on vacation to enjoy soft fascination? Not necessarily. So no worries if you physically can’t get away.

There are many ways you can engage in short moments of soft fascination without even leaving your office. Practicing five minutes of mindfulness at your desk is one way. Sitting with your eyes closed and your attention focused on your breathing can do wonders in restoring your tired brain.

You can also pack a lunch and take it outdoors. If you work close to a park or have access to a balcony, go there and let your mind wander while you eat.

Do you work from home? Cultivate a pocket garden if you have the space and retreat there when you feel tired. Or you can place a few house plants in your home office where you can easily see them at your desk.

Even staring at clouds from your window can create a moment of soft fascination.

The takeaway is that you have to allow yourself moments of pure idleness without guilt. Your brain and body will thank you for it.

What’s your favorite way to engage in soft fascination? Please share in the comments.

*How to have a STRESS FREE life* (Interview with Elle Starrett Ingalls)

Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from Youtube
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google