Nature, Stress, and Salivary Cortisol
That’s a really sexy title for a paper.
(That wasn’t actually the title, but maybe it should have been. Who am I kidding? It’s the worst title for a paper ever.)
Stress is one of those things that we all know we need to control, but very few of us make significant progress.
In many ways, it’s harder to fix than diet, exercise, or sleep.
Nature Kills Stress
In the April Issue of Landscape and Urban Planning (not a journal I usually read, but Mark Sisson linked to the study, so here I am), researchers published this paper:
More green space is linked to less stress in deprived communities: Evidence from salivary cortisol patterns
The study’s general hypothesis that regular exposure to nature is linked to lower levels of stress.
While most studies arrive at this conclusion simply by asking people how stressed they are and how often they get out into nature, this study went a bit further, which is what makes it both interesting and informative.
In the study, the researchers did two things:
a. First, they took surveys to see how stressed a particular group of people felt on an ongoing basis, and regularly obtained saliva samples from that group. Why? In order to see if there was a link between cortisol levels and how stressed people felt. There was just such a correlation.
b. Secondly, the researchers measured the quantity of green space in the immediate living area of each participant and then compared that to the cortisol levels in the saliva samples.
The results showed that having green space in your immediate living area meant that you were much less likely have elevated cortisol, and in turn, much less likely to be stressed.
Get Out of the Office
Spend more time in nature, or at least with greenery.
This is not a finding that shocks us much, but it’s a well-done study that reinforces how important it is to get outside more often.
Images: Copyright © Leah-Anne Thompson from Fotolia