Do you know those days that are just crazy? You are running from meeting to meeting, every second scheduled to the fullest. On days like that, it can be such bliss to have a few minutes to sit surrounded by greens. Even when you don’t have time for actual nature, only looking at a picture of a forest or green meadow will start to make you feel relaxed.
Why is it that nature has this calming effect on us?
There are a number of factors that all add up to this calming effect. Or, I would rather say, nature has an effect on us, and we have managed to pull that apart in different components.
One of the most obvious properties of nature is that there is a lot of the colour green. That’s easy to see, right? But did you know seeing green things actually relaxes our minds? That’s because we associate it with nature and safety. Something that is partly learned during our lives, but part of that association is more primitive and can be found in every person, independent of their upbringing.
Something else that can be found in nature are repeating patterns. Our minds love that! Without consciously knowing it, our minds are constantly trying to find patterns and symmetry in the world around us. Nature offers us with plenty of repeating patterns. A tree, for example, has a trunk, that splits into branches. Those branches in turn split into smaller branches. The smaller branches split… I think you get the picture.
The bottom line, I think, is that nature is our original habitat, our natural surrounding, and that is still nestled in our brains. As beautiful as we might decorate our homes, it will always be an artificial surrounding for us, and therefore takes energy for our minds to adjust to it.
Which doesn’t mean we should all abandon our houses and daily lives to find our inner cavemen. It’s just an explanation for the relaxing effect of nature, and maybe something to keep in mind when making choices about your daily environment.