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Get Some Fresh Air: Study Finds Embracing Nature For Just 5 Minutes Can Help Your Mood

By Sharelle Burt

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Has anyone ever told you to step outside and get some fresh air? Turns out they had a good reason for telling you that.

After conducting two studies, researchers from the University of Regina found that embracing nature for just five minutes can have a significant impact on your mood. Published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, the study had close to 130 participants from the psychology department assigned an outdoor location or an indoor location without windows. For the first study, once they got to their locations, all electronic devices were asked to be put away on focus on the atmosphere around them for five minutes.

Then it was time for the fun part. Participants were asked to dig into their hedonic moods and self-transcendent emotions. Hedonic emotions are feelings involved with comfort and pleasure while self-transcendent feelings surround gratitude, and the feeling of being a part of something bigger.

The results were in, and they showed that those sitting outside saw an increase of hedonic emotions over those sitting indoors. Same goes for self-transcendent emotions. Outsiders won.  A great sense of wonder was found for those sitting outside.

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The second study only had 70 participants. They were asked to spend 15 minutes in both indoor and outdoor settings without electronic devices, but this time, a new scale of emotions were being tested: stress, depression, and anxiety.

More time didn’t do much for the number of positive emotions felt but it did show that negative emotions went down in both settings with five minutes of rest. Katherine D. Arbuthnott, one of the study’s creators broke it down.

“There are two important take-homes; the first I emphasize to all my students these days — when you need an emotional boost, the fastest and easiest way is to spend a few minutes with nature,” Arbuthnott said. “The second is that, since contact with nature is so beneficial to our emotional health, preserving our local natural spaces is an important public health goal.”

If sitting outside isn’t your thing, Arbuthnott suggests simply looking at photos of nature can help as well.

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