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Mental fatigue? Try being alone in nature, experts say

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Posted at 7:45 PM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 12:23:34-04

Psychology experts say that going into nature to enjoy some personal time is a great way to de-stress from all of the various modern ways that life can cause anxiety.

When researchers published a paper in 2013 called "The Restorative Qualities of Being Alone with Nature," they found that natural environments allow people to recover physiologically and convert emotions into positive self-reported versions. If there are concerns for safety regarding being alone in nature, researchers found that being in the company of friends won't always hamper those with concerns from still feeling the restorative effects.

Being with others could even enhance the experience in some ways by allowing a shared mutual appreciation for the natural setting, but they found that it could also degrade restoration if too much attention is drawn away from the environment. The assumption here is that this dividing of attention from nature would also apply to devices as well, so probably best to keep your ring tone volume up, but put your phone away in a backpack.

A study from 1995 published in the journal Science Direct found that those in nature can experience something called "soft fascination." Environmental psychologist Stephen Kaplan noted that this is a state where one can feel transported, calm and buoyant at the same time.

In the paper, Kaplan says that human information processing needs directed attention. The findings noted that "Natural environments turn out to be particularly rich in the characteristics necessary for restorative experiences."

Researchers also found that going deeper into nature, into the wilderness, can help with "de-tethering" from digital connectivity. The combination of being away from cellular signals and the internet while also being out in a natural environment can help with a digital detox and improve the ability for cognitive renewal, according to Psychology Today.