A recent article about the number of hours that Montanans spend working really has had me thinking lately.

The study said that Montanans have the highest increase in the number of hours they work. My observation was that we now have the data to back up the feeling we all seem to share: that we're all working more, and for some, it feels like we're working all the time. I find this troubling. 

Working too much can take a significant toll on a person's body or a person's mind. I try to engage in stress-reducing activities whenever possible. Things like meditation, exercise, and eating healthy (but sometimes you just need an Oreo, am I right?).  

READ MORE: Montana Tops Work Hours Increase in Latest Study

For some, work-related stress can cause feelings of anxiety. While meditation and exercise can help with anxiety, a new study is showing a specific activity can help with anxiety. I'm delighted because living in Missoula offers the perfect opportunity to give this activity a try. 

Thanks to the annual Big Butterfly Count from the charity Butterfly Conservation, new research shows that if people spend time counting butterflies it can help reduce anxiety.

Now you see where I'm going with this.

Missoulians can visit the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium and try counting butterflies as a way to reduce anxiety. 

The idea behind the study published in Biological Conservation was to look at the way people actively engage with nature. They found that the people who participated in the Big Butterfly Count had "increased nature connectedness and nature and butterfly noticing, and decreased anxiety." 

Dennis Bragg, Townsquare Media
Dennis Bragg, Townsquare Media

Of course, the butterfly counting that was part of the experiment is not the same as visiting the Missoula Butterfly House. In the experiment, people were outside counting for 15 minutes to see how many butterflies they could find. At the Missoula Butterfly House, you're guaranteed to see butterflies without trying too hard.

But I think what might be similar is the act of taking time to notice and appreciate nature. We might assume that being in nature is good for the soul, but it's encouraging to see a new study to support the human-nature connection.

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