Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Looking IS Healing: Nature

"Demonstrating that we have a biologically programmed positive response to nature is more difficult, because we don’t respond as dramatically to something that’s not a threat.

But numerous studies since the 1970s suggest the subtle power of natural scenery to heal both body and mind. Texas A&M researcher Roger Ulrich, for instance, has shown that people who watch a calming nature video after a stressful experience have markedly lower muscle tension, pulse, and skin conductance activity after less than five minutes. This translates into significant medical benefits.

Ulrich monitored patients after gallbladder surgery and found that those assigned to a room looking out on trees needed far fewer painkillers than patients in rooms that faced a brick wall.

Heart surgery patients in rooms with nature scenes on the wall experienced less anxiety and smoother recoveries than patients with blank walls or abstract art.

Likewise, cosmonauts confined for months in outer space quickly lose interest in video programs and other diversions. They prefer to stare out the window at the untouchable Earth."

Source: The Natural History of Art