October 30, 2014 | David F. Coppedge

Trees Reduce Stress

Stressed out by politics or work?  Take a walk in the park under the trees.  It’s a proven remedy.

Natural scenes have long been known to calm the mind.  Now there’s proof, an article on Medical Xpress says:

Writers, outdoor enthusiasts and leaf-peeping tourists have known for centuries that nature has restorative powers that reduce feelings of stress and promote a sense of tranquility.

While numerous studies have affirmed nature’s stress-reduction properties, scientists haven’t known the specific amount of exposure needed to induce these calming effects.

However, a study led by researchers at the University of Illinois is believed to be the first study to describe a dose-response curve derived from exposure to nature.

The researchers found significant reductions in stress as measured both anecdotally and through biomarkers, such as skin conductance and saliva cortisol level.  To induce stress, they made the participants (80 men and 78 women) do what many people fear most: give an impromptu speech to a group on camera.  They were also given math problems to solve before and after the test.  Stress indicators fell as much as 60 percent after watching a 10-minute 3-D video of landscapes with trees.

Participants, in other words, didn’t even need to go outside to get the benefit.  And the more trees in the video, the better the stress reduction score.  2% tree cover had little effect, but 90% of participants felt calmer when the tree cover rose to 36%.

For some reason, the men showed more stress reduction than the women, although the women reported feeling calmer, too.  Since stress is linked to many physical problems, the researchers feel that city planners need to seriously consider the beneficial role of tree-lined nature walkways and parks in neighborhood design.

Trees, with their leafy limbs reaching high into the sky, are God’s gift to the world.  One surely must pity those living in areas deprived of trees, such as blighted inner city neighborhoods.  Does the lack of access to nature contribute to crime?  Perhaps, if stress contributes to bad behavior.  Some live in deserts, where only scrubby plants and cacti can grow.  But if you can plant a tree, it should do good for your health.  At least watch videos of nature and view trees on your computer screen as often as you can.

Here are some photos of trees with fall colors to test the benefit on your own mind.  Does it work?  If you are student studying for a test, or a speaker preparing to deliver a speech, maybe a ten-minute walk under the trees would help with your performance.  Try it anytime life’s pressure is getting you down.

This study also offers ways to assist shut-ins and hospital patients.  Find some beautiful nature footage or photos to put on a laptop, and bring them some of God’s beautiful creation.  It will be a kindness with real benefit to the body, mind, and soul.  Here’s a suggested DVD for them and for all: King of Creation.  Watch the trailer.  We highly recommend this combination of nature scenes, Scripture and music as a stress reliever and faith builder.




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