Nature Images Relieve Anxiety and Promote Healing

By Kurt Johnson Photography • March 29, 2019

Even though I’m a photographer by trade, I still spend a significant amount of time behind a desk.  Most of us find ourselves face to face with a computer screen instead of mother nature or find ourselves immersed in fluorescent overhead lighting instead of soothing sunlight.  And although I try to get outside as often as I can, sometimes it’s not an option.  And that’s when photographs have the amazing ability to transport us ~ the image of a bright green landscape teaming with growth allows us to feel the air of an open field and sense the possibility within ourselves.  Outstretched branches with golden leaves dappling in mid-afternoon light remind us to find beauty in the details.

In Linda Wasmer Andrews article, Nature-Based Imagery Helps People Feel Less Anxious, from Psychology Today, she explains that a growing body of research supports the notion that “Spending time in nature can help allay symptoms of anxiety.”  She goes on to write that “getting outside isn’t always practical, especially as the days grow shorter and the weather turns colder. Fortunately, there may be a simple workaround. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology shows that mentally picturing a nature scene in a vivid, multi sensory way can help ease anxious feelings.”

Yellow leaves closeup birch fall
The research she’s referencing by Jessica Nguyen and Eric Brymer ties in directly to why we need more nature imagery in hospitals and health care facilities, places where we often feel the most anxiety when dealing with injury, illness and trauma.  The research shows that focusing on nature imagery has been proven to ease anxiety and release calm endorphins in the brain, making dealing with difficult and scary situations more manageable.

To Brymer, the implication is clear: “People seem to know that being in nature, seeing images of nature, imagining nature, etc., has anxiolytic [anxiety-reducing] potential.”

Categories: Healing, Healthcare, Research

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