Nature beats technology hands down when it comes to reducing stress, new research reveals.
A study that measured individuals' heart recovery rate from minor stress found that viewing a natural scene was the best stress-busting tactic.
Viewing the same scene on a high-definition plasma screen or a blank wall was found to have a much less beneficial effect.
The heart rate of people who looked at the actual scene through a window dropped more quickly than those viewing the high-definition plasma screen or the blank wall.
When people spent more time looking at the natural scene their heart rates tended to decrease more. This was not the case with the plasma screen.
The research was conducted at the Human Interaction with Nature and Technological Systems Lab at the University of Washington.
"Technology is good and it can help our lives, but let's not be fooled into thinking we can live without nature," said Peter Kahn, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington, who led the research team.
"We are losing direct experiences with nature. Instead, more and more we are experiencing nature represented technologically through television and other media.
"Children grow up watching Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. This is probably better than nothing, but as a species we need interaction with actual nature for our physical and psychological well-being."
The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, is published in the current issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology.
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