The more trees we have around us, the lower our stress levels are
Planting trees in busy cities helps us combat stress.
Recent research has found that the thicker the tree covers are, the lower the stress levels will be.
Most people are aware that a walk in nature can immensely aid us in slowing down the crazy pace of modern life by bringing us back to the moment. And a fresh study tells us just how many trees are needed to keep us stable.
Researchers from the University of Illinois and the University of Hong Kong put people through stressful situations, after which they showed them 3D clips of multiple city-scapes, each with its own densities of tree cover.
The larger the tree-cover, the more a person’s stress levels came down.
160 participants were subjected to multiple stressful scenarios, including having them deliver a speech, or perform a mathematical test, all in front of cameras and judges.
When the people were fully under stress, they watched one of ten six-minute clips of city streets that only changed in the amount of tree coverage, ranging from 0% to 70%.
What the study revealed was that the more trees there were, the lower the stress levels became, the participants reported.
The fewer the trees, the less effective the video was in helping people recover from stress.
While this research, published in Environmental Behavior, included self-report questionnaires, a previous 2016 study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, saw reduced physiological markers of stress in people who simply looked at photographs of nature.
“The findings suggest that keeping a few snapshots of greenery around your work desk might not be a bad idea. When participants viewed the natural images in the experiment, their stress levels lowered, thanks to the activation of their parasympathetic nervous system – which controls certain rest functions,” Science Alert reports.
And while our nervous system regulates the fight-or-flight senses – increased heart rate, myocardial contractility, and the production of sweat – our parasympathetic system causes our heart to slow down, an increased heart-rate variability, salivary gland stimulation, and more relaxation-inducing responses that help compensate for times of high stress.
“High levels of parasympathetic activity have been associated with numerous benefits including more adaptive emotion regulation strategies and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease,” the researchers revealed.
What can we take away from this? Spend as much time as you can in nature. After all, this is our natural habitat.
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