Natural elements can help you avoid daily stress

Forest Homes - Blog - Incorporating nature at spaces to work and study contribute to health and productivity

When we work or study we set our direct attention of specific tasks for long periods of time. During this time we have to make an effort to filter out extraneous information and distractions, which makes our minds cognitively fatigued. This is known as directed attention fatigue and it can result in feelings of anxiety or stress, irritability with others, and ironically, inability to concentrate. Encounters with nature, even briefly, have shown to help recover from cognitive fatigue and improve concentration. 

Dr. Rachel and Steven Kaplan have shown in their study "Urban Nature Benefits: Psycho-Social Dimensions of People and Plants" that brief encounters with nature can aid cognitive fatigue recovery, improving one’s capacity to concentrate. These psychologists define the characteristics of natural places that are restorative.  

How does urban nature affect health at work?

Desk workers on Kaplan's research were surveyed about their rate of illness and level of job satisfaction. Some study participants could view nature from their desks, others could not. Those without, when asked about different sicknesses claimed 23% more times of illness in the prior six months. Desk workers with a view claimed the following satisfactions more often than their non-view colleagues:
  • More challenging jobs
  • Less frustration about tasks and generally more patience
  • Greater enthusiasm for the job
  • Feelings of higher life satisfaction
  • Reported better overall health
So, how does stress seem affected by nature environments?

We know that constant stress can impact our immune system as well as diminish the ability to cope with challenging situations. Roger Ulrich measured the physiological responses of our bodies (i.e. blood pressure and heart rate) brought on by stress. He found that people who view nature after stressful situations show:

  • Reduced physiological stress response
  • Better interest and attention
  • Decreased feelings of fear and anger or aggression

Another study on the effects of nature on driving and road stress is called the “immunization effect” — the degree of negative response to a stressful experience is less if a view of nature preceded the stressful situation.

Interesting effects of natural environments on violence and safety

Physical environments around a school appear to play a role in the control of aggressive behaviour and conflict resolution. A different research found that neighbourhoods with streetscapes that lacked of natural life are perceived as more threatening and dangerous. On the other hand, those that are more cared for, including tended landscapes, contribute to reduced feelings of fear and violence.

References

Urban Nature Benefits: Psycho-Social Dimensions of People and Plants http://www.naturewithin.info/UF/PsychBens-FS1.pdf

The Calming Effect of Green: Roadside Landscape and Driver Stress https://www.naturewithin.info/Roadside/Rsd-Stress-FS8.pdf

Environment and Crime in the Inner City , Frances E. KuoWilliam C. Sullivan. Environment and Behaviour. Vol 33, Issue 3, pp. 343 - 367 

 



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