Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Social Brain Stresses: Relief in Trees

Robert Frost said that "To be social, is to be forgiving."

Wise words that point to the inevitable stresses we with social brains engage in, on some level or another, every day. But perhaps relieving The Social Brain's tension may be quite easier than anyone would have imagined. In the age of 'oh-yeah-we-got-a-pill-for-that,' this should come as welcome news.

"It used to be that we looked at cataclysmic events, like divorce or loss of a job, as stressors," says Kathleen Wolf of the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington.

"But now we are seeing that our daily lives have constant small stressors, and the cumulative effect is significant. Consequently, even small, incremental contacts with nature in our daily lives are beneficial."

In her study, Andrea Faber Taylor looked at children living in Chicago's notorious Robert Taylor Homes housing project.

The children she studied were all from the same socioeconomic bracket; all were African American; all lived in virtually identical apartments to which their families had been randomly assigned; and all lived on the second, third, or fourth floors, the best levels for viewing nature.

The only difference was that some apartments overlooked trees and grass while others overlooked pavement.

Girls who could see nature from their windows were better able to concentrate, and to control impulsive behavior, as measured in standard psychological tests. These behaviors tend to help children resist peer pressure and sexual pressure, and help in other challenging situations.

"Our theory was that public housing is a very fatiguing environment," says Faber Taylor. "It turns out that small amounts of greenery seem to make a big difference. You don't have to live in Sherwood Forest to enjoy nature's benefits."

Source: How Nature Heals Us

For more info on nature and healing studies check this out:

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