Restorative Environments: How Nature Helps You Focus

Image of Cara Davidson

Cara Davidson, Guest Blogger

This blog is written by guest blogger Cara Davidson. 

In today’s busy world, everyone is prone to a little mental exhaustion here and there.

A strong coffee and a nap are generally society’s crutches. However, an Italian study by Rita Berto titled Exposure to restorative environments helps restore attentional capacity has proposed an alternate remedy to this fatigue- nature!

Berto, researcher and psychologist, studied participants completing an attention intensive task, viewing a photo and then redoing the action. She used three types of pictures: restorative environments (nature scenes), geometric patterns and non-restorative environments (cityscapes) to determine how gazing at them would affect attentional capacity.Image of a mother and daughter in a forest

Interestingly, it was concluded that only restorative environments boosted performance on these tasks. ‘Non-nature’ scenes had minimal to no effect. Berto hypothesized that this can be explained by natural landscapes being fascinating yet effortless to look at, allowing attentional capacity to relax and rebuild. The sweet spot for maximum restoration was approximately six minutes of viewing.

Here are some practical ways to implement these findings.

  1. Look out windows with natural views between tasks.
  2. Change your desktop wallpaper to a nature scene you find beautiful.
  3. Walk through a nearby park or forest when you grab lunch during work.
  4. Find your own way to connect with nature!

Refreshing your attention span is only one of the many benefits of nature. A Nature Canada article by Jill Sturdy speaks to the importance of daily interaction with Mother Earth and additional benefits that extend beyond the mind.

Next time you’re feeling a bit burnt out, save yourself a trip to the nearest coffee machine and try to integrate some nature magic into your life. There are no excuses- looking at a photo is super simple, easy and accessible. Try taking a peek at the natural world and be confident in giving your next endeavour your best (and most focused) shot.

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