Stress, as you surely know, is a silent killer that’s more harmful than many diseases combined. It’s almost impossible to avoid nowadays – from the hectic schedules and deadlines to negative people around us, stress gets to the best of us. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, it will hit you like a freight train from time to time. If it happens all the time, you’re in for a world of trouble.
The effect of stress on our physical and mental health is still underplayed by many experts. Not many people take it seriously when they really should. Apart from being associated with early onset of dementia and reduced cognitive decline, stress can harm your health in a variety of bad ways. This is why it’s crucial that we do everything we can to relieve it, and help is finally arriving from an unlikely ally.
As new studies have found out, simply viewing natural scenery is a major stress-reliever. The University of Illinois study revealed that more trees in sight correspond to lower stress levels which could prove to be a useful tool in the fight against all of stress’ negative effects. The team led by Dr. Bin Jiang put 158 volunteers in stressful scenarios for a few days after which they were asked to do a subtraction task in front of a video camera and judges.
Right after participating in the stressful activities, each volunteer enjoyed 6-minute, 360-degree videos with urban areas and a lot of trees on a VR headset. They were also asked to fill a questionnaire in the end that measured their stress levels. When the results were in they were pretty surprising.
The density of trees was directly associated with positive stress recovery that suggests that something as simple as looking at natural scenery can help you cope with stress. The fewer the trees, the less effective the videos were. This means that even putting up pictures of greenery and serene natural imagery consisting of trees on your desk can help relieve stress. That kind of imagery triggers the parasympathetic nervous system that controls our rest functions, resulting in decreased stress levels. Once activated, the system reduces our heart rate and helps us calm down, neutralizing the effects of stress.
The study once against shows that serene natural imagery is an excellent ‘cure’ for stress. Whenever you can, spend some time in nature. It’s our natural habitat and has a much bigger impact on our health than anyone believes. If you want to heal your body, mind, and soul, nature is the place to be.