Stress Relief Greater from True Nature Scenes
> 6/26/2008 9:19:54 AM

The idea that viewing plants can soothe anxiety goes back hundreds of years, at least as far as Medieval monks planting gardens as visual therapy for the sick who visited their monastery. Modern urban life is not only faster paced and more riddled with stressors, but it lacks the natural landscapes that could be a great comfort. In order to investigate the effect of nature scenes and technological alternatives, Dr. Peter Kahn Jr. performed a stress-recovery study that appears in the June issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

Dr. Kahn put 90 subjects into a stressful environment and then divided them into three different rooms to see how fast their heart-rates would recover. One group stared at a blank wall and one group looked out of a window onto a natural landscape. The group viewing the landscape returned to a normal heart-rate faster than the group with the view of plaster.



The more interesting finding was that the third group, which viewed an identical nature landscape on a high-definition plasma screen, recovered no faster than the wall-viewing group. This suggests that artificial nature imagery is not sufficient to produce a calming effect.

It is natural that we seek high-tech solutions to the alienation of modern life, but Dr. Kahn’s experiment points out that sometimes a view of trees or a walk in the park are more able to relieve stress than beautiful scenes on the television with which we can have no real connection. Further research is required to determine whether this applies to other artificial servings of nature, such as the sea sounds that many insomniacs hope will soothe them into sleep.

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