The Spark guide to rest and relaxation

Put some cozy socks on, set your phone notifications on silent, and kick back, as we revisit conversations with people who've dedicated their research to helping us rest, recharge and return to nature.

Time for a holiday break.

Turn up that diffuser, and turn down the noise. It's time to chill out! (Adam Killick)
Listen to the full episode53:59

Spark is a program that focuses on our relationship with technology.

But sometimes, even in the best relationships, people need a break.

So we've put together a few interviews from previous episodes about how getting away from our tech can improve our lives.

Research shows that spending as little as five minutes in nature can have a positive impact on our health. 

So why are so many of us cooped up inside instead of going for a walk? 

In her book, The Nature Fix, science writer Florence Williams traveled the world looking at the science behind why humans respond to being in nature.

The effects can be quite dramatic. 

Florence describes how researchers in Japan took test subjects into forests for brief periods, and looked at the impacts on their sympathetic nervous systems. 

"Blood pressure drops, their heart rate variability becomes more resilient when faced with stress, cortisol levels drop," she explains. 

"The subjects report an increase in...mood, and vitality, and creativity. And that's just after 20 minutes!" 


Rohan Gunatillake creates mindfulness tools, such as Buddhify. He's also the author of the new book, Modern Mindfulness. Rohan argues that we can actually use our tech in ways that support mindfulness, focus and calm, as we train our minds and attention over time.

"If our only strategy to deal with this force [digital technology] which is increasingly underpinning our lifestyles...our economy, is to turn it off...that's a really unsustainable approach," he says.

"Given that these technologies are not going away, it's really important for us not to write them off as purely as the enemy of our well-being, but actually including them in how we understand our well-being." 

For Rohan, using technology to support wellness is part of a broader trajectory. "The last 10 years has shown us, from the Nintendo Wii to the Apple watch, that technology has become increasingly supportive of physical health," he says. "I think the next evolution of that is using this stuff to support our mental well-being." 


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