Before the beginning of school, my 15 year old daughter binge watched dozens of episodes of Friends. I rationalized that it was the end of the summer and she was entitled to kick back before the rigors of high school began. Secretly, I worried, until I talked to my friends who admitted they too find guilty pleasure in watching back to back episodes of their favorite TV series.
As might be expected, stress and overwhelm are issues I hear plenty about as a business coach. Entrepreneurs and working executives actually work quite hard at figuring out how to relax. Yoga, meditation, being better organized, waking up or going to bed earlier, and the list goes on. All of these have merit.
There is, however, at least one stress buster that is grossly overlooked. Beauty.
Reveling in beauty can boost your mood and now research suggests it may also improve your health. A recent study shows that awe at the world’s art and nature is correlated with lower levels of a protein, that when present in large amounts, is associated with diabetes, arthritis and other ailments. Whether this means that beauty-inspired awe diminishes that protein level, or people with a lower level of the protein feel more awe, is still under investigation. Nonetheless, I’m confident that the prescription for more beauty is good medicine.
Most people associate awe with magnificent marvels. A perfectly full moon or the ocean’s expanse. But witnessing the Grand Canyon doesn’t have to be your benchmark. Each of us…creative types or not…has our own individual sense of beauty and awe. In fact, many awe inspiring things are awesome simply because we take the few seconds required to realize their wonder. Admiring the ordinary sights, sounds and textures we encounter every day most definitely count. The in-numerous veins on a leaf, the serenity of a cityscape at night, smooth stones, that curious thing that lizards do when they bob up and down, and of course the scent of fresh brewed coffee.
Like almost everything we find to be good for us — think exercise, eating well or managing our emotions — appreciating beauty can also be a challenge. Although it’s free, it does take time…that one commodity we find in short supply. The good news is that binging on beauty and feeling its effects is certainly less time consuming than watching a full season of Scandal… even without commercials!