A twenty minute connection with natural surroundings reduces stress

Nature and the workplaceA twenty to thirty minute stroll in a park is one of the best ways to reduce stress levels for people in cities and as a way of dealing with workplace related anxiety, claims a new study from researchers at the University of Michigan. The study Urban Nature Experiences Reduce Stress in the Context of Daily Life published today in the Journal Frontiers in Psychology suggests that any half hour connection with surroundings that make people feel connected to the natural world can reduce the key stress hormone by around 10 percent and so improve a person’s sense of wellbeing. Longer period of time increase the beneficial effects but at lower levels. 

The study, led by MaryCarol Hunter, Brenda Gillespie and Sophie Yu-Pu Chen of the University concludes that people with high levels of stress and anxiety should be encouraged to spend time in natural surroundings and, where possible, be allowed to walk and relax in parks and countryside.

“Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature,” MaryCarol Hunter said. “You don’t have to travel to the wildlands. Getting out of an office block and sitting next to a tree can be enough.”