Using Nature as an “Anti-Stress” Potion

I was so stressed out after work today that I spent some time driving up to the Cosumnes River Preserve and along Desmond Road to see the birds.  Didn’t see much of anything new, but I did get some shots of a hawk eating its prey (which I think was a vole or somebody’s chick), and some shots of a Greater Yellowlegs (which is a kind of Sandpiper), so it wasn’t all for naught.

Turns out that “nature as a cure” for stress is a REAL thing.  Here are some snippets from an article from Prevention magazine: “…In a recent study published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, scientists measured the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in 25 healthy adults in Scotland and asked them to fill out questionnaires about what stresses them out at home and at work. They then compared that information to the number of parks, woodlands, and other natural environments in each participant’s zip code. Those who lived in the areas with the most amount of green space had lower levels of cortisol, and their self-reported feeling of stress were lower than those who spent more time in urban settings… And five minutes outside is all it takes get the mood-boosting effect, according to a 2010 study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Researchers found that people experienced the largest boosts to their mood and self-esteem after just spending five minutes outside doing some form of light exercise, like walking.”

This is echoed in another article in “The Dirt”: “…Recent research shows that taking a stroll through a natural setting can boost performance on tasks calling for sustained focus. ‘Taking in the sights and sounds of nature appears to be especially beneficial for our minds.’ In fact, Dr. Marc Berman and fellow researchers at the University of Michigan found that ‘performance on memory and attention tests improved by 20 percent after study subjects paused for a walk through an arboretum. When these people were sent on a break to stroll down a busy street in town, no cognitive boost was detected’.”