In today’s fast-paced life, we often times struggle to remain stress-free. Being stressed up has become part and parcel of our everyday life. But the good news is we can lower the stress hormone levels by taking a stroll or relaxing in nature for just 20 minutes a day, says a new study by researchers in the University of Michigan.
In the study, published in the journal, Frontiers in Psycholog, MaryCarol Hunter, lead author and an Associate Professor at the university, says, “We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us.”
Health practitioners may prescribe this “nature pill” in the light of measurable effect shed by this study, involving 36 participants.
The participants took a ‘nature pill’ of 10 minutes or more, three times a week for eight weeks. Every two weeks, their saliva samples were taken and levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, measured before and after the “nature pill”.
“Participants were free to choose the time of day, duration, and the place of their nature experience, which was defined as anywhere outside that in the opinion of the participant, made them feel like they’ve interacted with nature,” Hunter explains.
The data showed that just a 20-minute nature experience can significantly reduce cortisol levels. But if one spends more time in nature, be it sitting or walking, cortisol levels dropped at faster rates.