Accessing the Wellbeing Benefits of Nature in a Busy City

Being close to plant-life has long been thought to improve the recovery of hospital patients, while a study has shown that being near plants can also boost general wellbeing by 47%, productivity 45% and creativity by 38%.*   With such benefits on offer, how do you best subscribe to nature in a busy city?

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The simple answer to accessing the wellbeing benefits of nature in a busy city may be to fill your home and office space with house plants.  Being mindful that living in an urban area is usually accompanied with operating at a fast pace, it’s best to pick plants that fit with our busy schedules.  If you’re convinced that you do not have the time to care for plants, start with those that require the least amount of maintenance.  There are many house plants that can survive a neglectful home.  It’s also worth noting that not all house plants are safe for pets, so here are a few that are both easy to care for, and won’t bring your fury friend to any harm.  Try a classic Spider plant, that will thrive in medium light, moist soil and at room temperature.  Boston Ferns with their sumptuous leaves prefer indirect light, high humidity and cool temperatures.   Sweetheart Hoyas have the added benefit of pleasingly fragrant blooms, while they do not require much sun or water.   Also try Echeveria, a pretty bloom like succulent, which is available in many colours and enjoys plenty of light and moist soil.**

Echeveria

Echeveria

If you’re still not convinced of your ability to keep even the most robust plants alive, then your pathway to the positive benefits of nature may be found in the most unlikely place: in front of your TV!  It’s been shown that watching nature documentaries has as similar effect on wellbeing as being in nature itself.  The BBC study showed that watching nature documentaries resulted in a significant increase in positive feelings including awe, joy, curiosity and relaxation, and a significant decrease in negative emotions including anxiety, stress, anger and fatigue.+

If concentrating on the TV is not compatible with your daily tasks, then try the sounds of nature.  Listening to the sounds of the sea or birdsongs, for example, can help you to achieve a meditative state.  A study has shown that the nature sounds can reduce ‘inward-focused attention’ which can include worry about one’s self (often associated with anxiety, depression and PTSD) and promote a move to ‘external focused attention’.  The study also recorded a shift in heart rate that indicated an increase in the ‘rest digest’ response which helps the body relax, and a decrease in the body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ response.++

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While the sounds of the wild, nature documentaries and potted plants will help you to access the benefits of nature in most environments, don’t forget that if you’re lucky enough to have a garden or live near a park, take a break from your busy schedule, and enjoy being outside in nature, as it was intended.

 

Author: Adele Lindsay

 

Footnotes:

*         Office Plants Boost Well-being at Work

**       Houseplants For People With No Green Thumb

+        Watching Nature Programmes Makes You Happier

++      Why Nature Sounds Help You Relax, According to Science

Adele Lindsay