A preliminary report on country living.
We have a definite link with nature, and the human brain is influenced by our environment – what we see, smell, hear and feel. The book, How the body knows its mind, by Sion Beilock reported that city dwellers are at a 20% increase risk for developing anxiety disorders and a 40% increased risk for mood disorders compared with people who live in less populated areas.
If you have been following my blogs, you may recall during the series on the impact of greenery, relationships, and environment on productivity, I announced my move from city life to a small town called Sussex in south eastern New Brunswick. That was about three months ago, and I am giving the preliminary report that I promised.
I had to get used to breathing air I couldn’t see, experiencing five minute average commutes compared to Toronto’s 80-minute adventure, having stand-offs with other motorists who wanted you to go first, having people greet you by name when you walked into the bank, and having strangers say hello to you when you passed them on the street. But after three months, I believe I am finally adjusting to country life.
There are disadvantages of course. There are no movie theatres (except for a drive-in theatre), no Starbucks (although there are two Tim Horton’s) no top of the line clothing or department stores – although they do have Sobeys, Superstore, Home Hardware, Shoppers Drug Mart, Canadian Tire, Walmart and Marks Work Warehouse – and of course McDonald’s. But in less time than it takes to commute to work in Toronto you can drive to the large cities Saint John, Moncton or Fredericton. (Sussex lies in the centre of a triangle connecting those three cities.)
Although it’s a town of only about 4000 people, this number swells to about 20,000 when the annual balloon festival takes place – or the 900-booth gigantic annual flea market is open for business. And of course there are plenty of visitors during the summer months – probably attracted by the dozens of larger-than-life murals painted on buildings by internationally renowned artists or the antique car shows or covered bridges – or maybe it’s the fishing, hiking or the fact that Sussex is the gateway to the Bay of Fundy and other attractions like Magnetic Hill, Hopewell Rocks or the Reversing Falls.
Winters can be nasty. There hasn’t been much snow so far; but two years ago I visited during a snowstorm that seemed to last a week. Of course it’s only 15 minutes to Poley Mountain if you’re a skier; less than that for snowmobiling, cross country skiing or whatever. Personally I plan to hibernate with my books for a few months – or visit my son and his family in Mexico.
I can’t begin to explain how invigorating I find my morning walks, the view of trees and rolling hills, grazing cattle and trout streams where you can easily catch your limit in an hour. I now even enjoy walking in the snow, warmly dressed of course, and marvel at the beauty of nature in the winter.
But as yet I have no acceptable proof of increased productivity produced by the greenery, scenic views, pollution free air, social relationships or increased exercise. I do know my blood pressure has dropped an average of ten points, and I feel good and more energetic than before the move.
I also think I get the same amount of work done in less time; but instead of using it for more work, I use the time to attend music jamborees, church suppers, and attending meetings of the local friendship club. And I admit I enjoy catching speckled trout in the local streams, picking wild blueberries and feeding birds and chipmunks.
There were no lineups when I renewed my driver’s license, no mandatory driver’s test every two years for people over 80, and one thing I can’t help but notice: people in the service industry actually seem to take pleasure in serving you. I find life less frustrating.
So even if I don’t succeed in getting more work done in my life, I seem to be on track to get more life. I’ll report again after the winter, and in the meantime I will try to pay more attention to my productivity level.
Oh, one other thing – I seem to have had an epiphany of sorts. I realized my definition of personal productivity that I have been using during my training career is somewhat inaccurate. I may discuss this in my next blog. Meanwhile, have a very Merry Christmas