Healing through being outdoors
A couple of years ago The Guardian ran with a headline “Three quarters of UK children now spend less time outdoors than prison inmates“. When adults do go outside, most often they are lost in the devices in their hands and they no longer look up to see the sky, the trees, the beauty of clouds passing by. Our world is moving on and changing and our experiences in nature have changed from a daily dose to a once a year holiday where we fully concentrate on being outdoors and enjoying the world.
This is a generalisation but the figures back it up. Teenage depression is rising, adults’ chronic and mental health issues are more prevalant. Studies show that contact and experiences in nature reduce stress levels and improve mental function.
Roger Ulrich psychologists hooked up an EEG to volunteers whilst they viewed slides of nature and urban buildings. Those assigned to nature showed a higher alpha wave activity, a wavelength associated with relaxation, meditation, and increased serotonin.
In another experiment he stressed out 120 students by showing them movies of bloody accidents. He measured their sympathetic nervous activity – sweat glands on skin, heart rates and blood pressure. Afterwards some watched 10 min video of nature and some a video of urban scenes. Results were dramatically different within 5 mins. The brains on nature returned to baseline. The brains watching urban scenes, recovered only partway after 10 mins. Healing through being outdoors is becoming proven. And landscape photography is something that encourages time outdoors.
It is our job as landscape photographers to give this precious gift to people. To share our love of the world – our talent at capturing its very essence in a tangible form is one that should be given credit and we should be proud of.