Need A Mood Enhancer? Get Outside!
With two more months of winter to go, Yakima's current burst of sunny weather won't last and we'll see the return of the low clouds and fog that make up much of our winter weather landscape. When the weather goes gray, a lot of folks get blue and when that happens you should consider stepping outside for a few minutes.
In a new study published in the Journal of Positive Energy, (I'll admit to not subscribing) researchers found that participants who spent just five minutes sitting in nature experienced an increase in positive emotions.
Test subjects were asked to put away all electronic devices and focus on their setting (an outdoor park or a windowless room) while remaining seated for five minutes. Each person was also asked to scale a range of emotions that included both hedonic mood (emotions associated with comfort and pleasure) and self-transcendent emotions (including feelings of awe, gratitude, wonder, and a sense that you are part of something greater than yourself), both before and after being taken to each setting.
You may not have to be a big time scientist to predict what happened. Fox News reports that those sitting outside experienced an increase in hedonic emotions before and after the test, while those in the indoor setting did not. Additionally, those who spent just five minutes outside reported feeling a sense of awe.
Scientists say two points of importance from the study are — when you need an emotional boost, the fastest and easiest way is to spend a few minutes with nature. The second is that, since contact with nature is so beneficial to our emotional health, preserving our local natural spaces must be an important public health goal.