by Tracey Johnstone
THE simple act of noticing everyday nature can increase your wellbeing and your sense of connectedness to the community you live in.
You don't need to spend time and effort finding a natural environment; researchers suggest just noticing nature is beneficial.
"Paying increased attention to everyday nature significantly increased individual wellbeing, regardless of trait levels of connectedness to nature and engagement with beauty," a recent report states.
Holli-Anne Passmore's University of British Columbia (UBC) research report on noticing nature, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, continues: "Moreover, the beneficial effects on individual well-being, sense of general connectedness and pro-social orientation were evidenced, despite that participants in the nature condition did not report spending more time in natural settings over the course of the intervention than other participants did; they simply noticed, and attended to, the nature they encountered in their daily routines."
How do you notice nature?
- Go outside.
- Be quiet - unplug the earphones, silence the mobile phone.
- Notice the natural elements around you such as the trees, sun, moons, clouds, moving water, animals, smells; look, see and smell.
- Think about how each of the natural elements you see, makes you feel.
- Go back inside, taking with you the memories of your nature observations.
The UBC researchers asked students to observe everyday for two weeks natural and human-built scenes, and record their reactions to those evocative scenes or objects by firstly photographing them and then attaching to those photographs one or more descriptions of emotions aroused by image in the photo.
The photos of natural scenes and objects evoked positive emotions such as rejuvenation, peace, awe, hope and freedom, while the photos of human-built scenes or objects tended evoke negative comments such as annoyance, stress, safety, fatigue, envy, guilt and disgust.
The practical outcome of this research suggests that people are drawn to nature to experience positive feelings which in turn can improve mood.
A person doesn't need to be a nature-lover or spend inordinate amounts of time admiring nature to benefit from what can derives in people.
Simply being aware and appreciative of nature appears to be where to start.