Girl Hiking in Nature

The Stress-Calming Health-Benefits of Being in Nature

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The NCCIH Integrative Medicine Research Lecture Series: 

Nature Contact and Human Health: A Multi-method Approach

"While nature experience has been shown to benefit human beings in a variety of ways, people worldwide are increasingly disconnected from nature as they spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors. This is a concerning trend, given that contact with nature has been shown to benefit human beings in a variety of ways. Scientific interest in this area has been increasing, but key questions remain, and more research is needed. What we do know has the potential to shape policy, social programs, and the landscape we inhabit, but to do so responsibly, accurate and effective translation of the science is needed. 

"Dr. Bratman will discuss the current state of the field of research on nature and mental health, as well as an agenda for future research. He will describe various approaches to measuring the impacts of nature experience on human cognitive function and mental health, and a theory for the causal mechanisms that may be responsible for these effects. Major implications of these findings for urban planning, public policy, and future research directions will also be addressed. 

"During this lecture Dr. Bratman will:

  • Review the current state of the field of research on nature and mental health, as well as a proposed agenda for future research.

  • Discuss the evidence in support of a causal mechanism responsible for the impacts of nature experience on cognitive function, mood, and emotion regulation.

  • Describe the ways in which this body of evidence may be put into practice, and the emerging questions that can be investigated with these applications."

Summary:

"The pandemic has contributed to work-related stress, but it has also prompted employers to explore non-traditional ways of structuring work and managing employees. One benefit employers and employees may have overlooked is how remote and hybrid work can help them take advantage of the restorative and motivational power of nature. A growing body of research reveals that spending time in nature has many benefits for mental and physical health. The author presents three ways for managers to take advantage of hybrid and remote work to help their employees better access and benefit from nature."

Excerpt:

"Covid-19 and our efforts to combat it have caused a great deal of stress. According to the American Psychological Association, in 2020, nearly 8 in 10 American adults indicated that the pandemic was a significant source of stress in their lives. Even before these additional pressures, work-related stress had been increasing for decades in the United States. However, by accelerating the rise of hybrid and remote work, the pandemic has also given business leaders new opportunities to help their employees better access a major resource for stress management: nature. And the benefits of nature extend far beyond psychological well-being. Spending time in nature can also help employees be more inspired, creative, and socially connected at work."

Source: Clay Routledge, Harvard Business Review, September 16, 2021