Picture this. A clear blue sky. Fresh clean air. Old ancient trees. Beautiful birdsong.
Now imagine this.
Noise from traffic. Pollution. Dirty plastic waste. A sea of concrete.
Let me ask you this – which scenery do you prefer?
Judging from the huge digital image of a blue sky and mountains in the polluted Tiananmen square in China, it seems obvious that humans prefer natural environments.
Researchers Weinstein, Przybylski and Ryan (2009) state –
“People prefer to be surrounded by environments rich in natural objects. When given the opportunity, they seek out the most abundant collections of trees, water or mountains available to them”
Some academics have gone as far as arguing that humans cannot thrive and flourish in an urban environment. Why? It’s too stressful for our minds and bodies.
The World Health Organisation has found that road traffic and aircraft noise results in learning impairments in children, sleep disturbance, high blood pressure, irritation and increased stress levels. It appears that prolonged exposure to noisy, polluted urban environments can make you really sick.
If you want to be happier, healthier and more productive the key is to spend as much time as you can out in nature.
Simply viewing and being in nature can improve your cardiovascular functioning, ability to cope with and recover from stressful experiences, concentration and self esteem. It can also have an energising and restorative effect.
So whenever you can get outdoors, do it! Your body and brain will thank you for it.
But what if you’re chained to a desk in a concrete jungle for most of the day? Is there anything you can do?
You need to take matters into your own hands and bring nature to you with a pot plant or two.
Studies have found that pot plants make a huge difference when it comes to cleaning the air and boosting productivity levels.
In his TED talk, researcher Kamal Meattle who became allergic to India’s polluted air talks about how effective plants can be in improving productivity by over 20%, removing chemicals from the air and reducing eye irritation, headaches and respiratory problems.
In fact, Mr Meattle believes so strongly in the power of pot plants that he has 1,200 plants in his office building!
Flowers also seem to work a treat when it comes to boosting brain power. A study at Texas A & M university found that participants who kept flowers and pot plants in their workspace experienced greater levels of productivity and creativity than participants who just had a sculpture or a bare workspace.
So next time you’re about to have a cup of coffee or an energy drink, perhaps ask yourself the question “How can I get my dose of nature today?”