I’m just hanging around
Simply chilling out and taking it easy is balsam to both body and soul – and not only when the thermometer starts to rise. We tell you the best way to go about it.
Gently swaying in the summer haze is an ideal way to spend a warm summer’s day. Dreaming of lovely places to visit – on a sailing boat crossing a picturesque Bavarian lake or skirting the Adriatic coast, fanned by a delightful breeze, where it’s easy to ignore pesky thoughts of work or various other obligations. But – for those of us who don’t own a sailing boat, or even a canoe – what about a hammock instead?
There are many interesting stories about this “Brazilian bed”, as English sailors are said to have called it. Christoph Columbus is believed to be the first European who saw hammocks – referred to as “hamacas” – being used on the Antilles islands, located to the east of continental America, and brought one back with him. Sailors adopted the idea immediately. Apart from no longer having to lie on filthy decks, they liked the fact that swung hammocks managed to compensate the rocking motion of their vessels.
Unfortunately, history does not tell us whether these sailors also appreciated a further benefit of hammocks, one that has been corroborated by Swiss scientists: occupants of a gently swaying hammock doze off faster and even sleep a little more soundly – ultimately enjoying a more refreshing night’s sleep.
And there’s even more good news in connection with our vestibular system. This is the sensory system in the inner ear whose receptors detect motion, linear and angular acceleration, rotation and vibration. It contributes to our sense of balance, visual coordination and spatial orientation. The swaying of the hammock triggers our vestibular systems, thus helping us stabilise our equilibrium, normalise our muscle tone and generally enhance our sense of well-being.
So it’s great when we’re able to relax at home in a hammock, hanging chair, Hollywood swing or rocking chair. Even more beneficial would be the chance to do the same at our workplace as well. Occupational health experts have long extolled the virtues of a 20-minute power nap during a break to bring motivation, concentration and performance back to optimum levels. Google and other aspiring trailblazers are already enabling employees to recharge their batteries in this way, and hammocks have also been sighted in their offices. We now know why!
Why not drop this idea into the employee suggestion box at your company?