RESEARCH AT OFFLINE

Stress VS Mindfulness

A stay of already three days can reduce your stress level and enhance your state of mindfulness.

During last year’s springtime I had the opportunity to collect data for my bachelor thesis while I was volunteering for Offline Portugal from May till the end of June. In general I was overwhelmed by our guests‘ interest in my research and their immediate feedback as well as participation. 23 guests completely filled in the questionnaires at our Offline House. In the end there was a total amount of 15 participants who suited my study’s inclusion criteria.

For the assessment there were two points in time in the form of three questionnaires: Once the guest arrived at Offline and four weeks after he or she was back at home, in his or her urban daily life. The goal was to do research for health promotion purposes as well as health prevention reasons as our modern lifestyle becomes more and more jeopardising for our good health. Not only physically but also psychologically.

Our goal at Offline is to ensure our guests have an adventurous yet energy refuelling stay. One element that is becoming one of the most, if not the most prevailing factor, for civil diseases is stress. To be more precise, by the year 2020 the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that stress related disorders will be the second most important cause for civil diseases. As we promote the concept of unplugging in order to disconnect to reconnect one may say that the factor of having a recreational vacation without one’s smartphone or digital devices could reduce stress as one is less occupied with the permanent pressure back home in daily life settings. But we have to go a bit deeper into detail by doing research to scope out some possible influencing factors that would benefit your health while staying with us. Since our house is located in the beautiful natural park Costa Vicentina in Algarve and we offer Yoga and Surfing, we are able to also grasp the setting and activities as influencing factors for stress reduction and health promotion. So I came up with the following research title:

“How to enhance urban people’s capacity to deal with psychological stress. The influence of mindfulness and nature connectedness in an offline-vacation-setting“.

In general, it is commonly known that psychologically referred diseases are widespread threats especially in job-related settings, however it hasn’t quite arrived in the individual’s awareness as a jeopardising somatic disease yet. Aside from depressive symptoms including the Burn-Out syndrome and correlated sleeping disorders there are also physical hazards as a result of chronic stress, such as harmful effects on our vital organs including our cardio-vascular system.

Coming to the positive aspects again, a study has shown that people from urban areas who have spent a short amount of time in a natural setting reduced their mental fatigue and increased their problem solving skills as well as their concentration. Another study found out that moderate physical activity in a natural environment increases mental well-being.

A certain connectedness to nature is also beneficial for our mental well-being. In thi​​s study, people who engaged in appreciative outdoor activities, such as Surfing or Yoga on the cliffs (which we offer), cultivated a greater connection with the natural world and benefitted from associated psychological well-being.

So overall nature- and activity related stays in nature show promising results in the enhancement of mental health. Do they also reduce stress and enhance mindfulness? Well yes, come and try it yourself!

Out of 23 guests who completed the questionnaires regarding their level of stress related to their stay at the Offline House in 2016, 15 completed the criteria to be selected to this study.

The questionnaires result in an overall score and what I expected to see was a decrease in the stress level’s and an increase in the mindfulness’s and nature connectedness’s which is outlined in the figures below. In science we speak of significance if the value is p ≤ 0,05 which is the case for the stress level (p ≤ 0,041) and mindfulness (p ≤ 0,05).

Furthermore there was a positive correlation between the overall activity amount (Yoga + Surfing + Hiking) and the shift in the level of mindfulness. In this sample it appears, that a higher overall amount of time spent on activities resulted in a higher level of mindfulness. I’ve illustrated that effect in the following figure.

For the purposes of my studies it is important to analyse and discuss WHY there was a decrease in stress level and an increase in mindfulness. In general, the concept of mindfulness includes the elements of awareness and non-judgemental acceptance and appreciation towards moment-to-moment experiences and therefore may have the potential to have a moderating function when it comes to stressful events in a person’s life.

In literature we can find a lot of links between mindfulness and nature connected to be beneficial to foster mental well-being. With my study I took a little step towards the analysis between stress reduction, mindfulness and nature connectedness enhancement. One could argue the stress level reduction could have happened naturally without any activities as well. Nevertheless this study shows that there is a positive effect on perceived stress and mindfulness thanks to the recreational stay at Offline.

Since my scientific background is Sports Science with the emphasize on Health Prevention and Promotion my focus was more on the well-being indicators stress, mindfulness, nature-connectedness and physical activities.

The guests might have realised their smartphone overuse back in their daily lives and (hopefully) reduced their daily usage. This could have also resulted in a decrease of the level of perceived stress.

Overall there are a few indicators towards the enhancement of an overall well-being due to staying at Offline. Well in the end we are sure to offer you recreational effects for body and mind if you choose to go surfing with us, practice Yoga as well as mindfulness activities and hang out with us in nature as these factors show potential for health promotion purposes and seem to have a moderating effect on perceived stress, scientifically evaluated.

Great to know and a good reason to go Offline for some days!

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Where do we do this2

Our off-line experiences take place in the Southwest of Portugal near the beautiful town of Aljezur, Tenerife in Canary islands and in India. The workshops can be booked online and they will take place in Lisbon The Offline dinners run once a month and you can reserve your place Here. Our festival will be placed not far from Aljezur in the middle of the beautiful mountains in Monchique. The spiritual guidance sessions are available to current offliners (Ex Offline House guests) and can be done via a Skype call. We believe that the first meeting should be done off-line so join one o four events or experiences and then we can follow you upo n your journey with an online guidance.

 

Disconnect holiday experiences

Reconnect holiday experiences

Where do we do this3

Our off-line experiences take place in the Southwest of Portugal near the beautiful town of Aljezur, Tenerife in Canary islands and in India. The workshops can be booked online and they will take place in Lisbon The Offline dinners run once a month and you can reserve your place Here. Our festival will be placed not far from Aljezur in the middle of the beautiful mountains in Monchique. The spiritual guidance sessions are available to current offliners (Ex Offline House guests) and can be done via a Skype call. We believe that the first meeting should be done off-line so join one o four events or experiences and then we can follow you upo n your journey with an online guidance.

 

Offline Portugal

Urbanization Vale da Telha
Sector C Plot 104 - CP 379
Aljezur

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