Tuesday, October 24, 2006

take time for tranquility


I’m feeling quite happy today as a report for the Campaign for Rural England (CRE) has announced that the North East of England where I live is the most tranquil region in the country, as it houses the top three counties for tranquillity; Northumberland, Cumbria and North Yorkshire. All three counties have large rural areas and also, in my opinion, have the most stunning landscape in the country – miles and miles of open countryside, golden beaches, fells, moors, mountains, forests and woodlands. And with that comes less noise, less air pollution and more peace, quiet and fresh air. All of which are essential to create an environment of tranquillity. Those in London and the South East are less fortunate, with Surrey being the least tranquil county, along with Hertfordshire.

According to the report, tranquillity is defined as “the quality of calm experienced in places with mainly natural features and activities, free from disturbances and manmade ones”

Tranquillity is good for our health. Exposure to nature has been shown to reduce blood pressure, reduce heart attacks, increase mental performance and soothe anxiety. It helps relieve stress and recent research shows that one of the primary reasons that people visit the countryside is to escape from the stresses of their lives and seek tranquillity and solitude in the great outdoors.

In my office at work, I have a wall space which I refer to as the wall of tranquillity, which houses half a dozen or so images of attractive, tranquil scenery. No houses, cars, people, roads or buildings, just water, rocks, sand, trees, mountains and sky. I look at this pictures from time to time to give my eyes a rest from the movement, colour and bustle around me (my ears are not so lucky!).

What this research has reminded me of is how much I value tranquillity and how important it is to make the effort to go to spaces where it can be found. Some are lucky enough to live and work in a tranquil environment but huge numbers of us live in urban and built up areas and if we don’t make time for it, the nearest thing we get to tranquillity is a walk in the park.

In my experience, I have some of my best ideas or most profound thoughts when I am out in the great outdoor. Of course urban life and culture can be incredibly stimulating, but equally you can get overloaded with sights and sounds and have little room for your thoughts and feelings.

So I’ve decided that this weekend, come rain or shine, I’ll be out in the countryside, enjoying the peace and solitude. For as Bill Connelly says; there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.


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