Be nurtured by nature: outdoors or indoors.

Fatigue means I struggle with sensory overload. I often watch ‘mindful moment’ video clips. The soothing sounds of babbling brooks and tuneful song birds coupled with countryside views slowly rolling by. This connection to nature really helps me rest. Fascinated, I looked up some psychology and found some great ways nature helps us, outdoors and indoors.

I first learnt the term ‘green exercise’ at university. It basically refers to exercise in a place which is more natural than artificial like walking in a park, rather than a town. Apparently, it’s all to do with the colour green as it arouses parts of the brain supporting a mind-body interaction [1]. Evidence shows an increase in happiness, wellbeing and social interactions giving us meaning to life as well as decreasing mental distress [2]. Great news!

Walk to Brantwood from Coniston, Cumbria.
Walk to Brantwood from Coniston, Cumbria.

It gets better… those who cannot get outside can still benefit by just looking at nature on a screen. Images, videos and virtual reality experiences of natural settings, significantly aids our attention, lifts our emotions and helps us to reflect more positively in life [3,4].

And there’s this…during a computer task, participants made less mistakes and were more consistent in responding when looking at a green meadow roof during breaks compared to looking at a concrete roof during breaks in the task [5]. Just a thought but could this possibly mean brain fog can be helped by adding nature breaks into our resting time? I’d like to think so.

There’s more… it doesn’t have to be green either, blue can work too. So, if you connect better with lakes, rivers or the ocean then these scenes can work for you [6].

Coniston Water at the National Lake District, Cumbria.

Finally, just listening to sounds of nature is found to boost our attention and mental performance [7]. So, if you struggle with screens then you can close your eyes and still reap some benefits. Brilliant!

I have always enjoyed the countryside. It gives me a sense of space and freedom. Now that I know even more about its wellbeing benefits, I definitely recommend adding nature into your day or as part of your daily screen time.

It works for me. Give it a try and see how it helps you too.

Jacqui x

Feel free to leave a comment, I’d like to know how nature has helped you today.

References

1. Akers, A., Barton, J., Cossey, R., Gainsford, P., Griffin, M., & Micklewright, D. (2012). Visual colour perception in green exercise: Positive effects on mood and perceived exertion. Environmental Science & Technology, 46, 8661 – 8666.

2. Bratman, G.N., Anderson, C.B., Berman, M.G., Cochran, B., de Vries, S., Flanders, J., Folke, C., Frumkin, H., Gross, J.J., Hartig, T., Kahn Jr. P.H., Kuo, M., Lawler, J.J., Levin, P.S., Lindahl, T., Meyer-Lindenberg, A., Mitchell, R., Ouyang, Z., Roe, J., Scarlett, L., Smith, J.R., van den Bosch, M., Wheeler, B.W., White, M.P., Zheng, H., Daily, G.C. (2019) Nature and mental health: An ecosystem service perspective. Vol 5(7).

3. Mayer FS, Frantz CM, Bruehlman-Senecal E, Dolliver K. (2009). Why Is Nature Beneficial? The Role of Connectedness to Nature. Environment and Behavior. 41(5), 607-643.

4. White, M. P., Yeo, N. L., Vassiljev, P., Lundstedt, R., Wallergård, M., Albin, M., & Lõhmus, M. (2018). A prescription for “nature” – the potential of using virtual nature in Therapeutics. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment14, 3001–3013.

5. Lee, K.E., Williams, K.J.H., Sargent, L.D., Williams, N.S.g., Johnson, K.A. (2015). 40-second green roof views sustain attention: The role of micro-breaks in attention restoration, Journal of Environmental Psychology, 42, 182-189.

6. Gascon, M., Zijlema, M., Vert, C., White, M.P., Nieuwenhuijsen, M.J. (2017).Outdoor blue spaces, human health and well-being: A systematic review of quantitative studies, International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 220(8), 1207-1221.

7. Van Hedger, S.C., Nusbaum, H.C., Clohisy, L. et al. (2019) Of cricket chirps and car horns: The effect of nature sounds on cognitive performance. Psychon Bull Rev 26, 522–530.

2 comments

  1. This was very interesting. When I think back to the times I’ve been very ill and struggling to cope, I always found myself seeking out green spaces. I find it’s a good way to feel more grounded and get out of my own head for a little while.

    Liked by 1 person

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