A study by the University of Regina and published in the Journal of Positive Psychology has found that just 300 seconds with nature can make us feel better and improve our "emotional health".
Katherine D. Arbuthnott, one of the study's authors, said: "There are two important take homes; the first I emphasise to all my students these days - 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 is an important public health goal."
The first study took 123 participants and asked them to describe their hedonic mood and self-transcendent emotions before and after spending five minutes in a park with no distraction. This included feelings of gratitude and wonder as well as emotions associated with comfort and pleasure.
However, Arbuthnott sees limitations with the study.
Arbuthnott added: "There are many details of these health effects yet to discover. Our study examined only short exposures to nature (five and 15 minutes) in a small urban park. It would also be useful to know whether much longer exposures, or time spent in larger natural areas would influence our emotions differently. We also know almost nothing about how long these emotional boosts last. We do know, however, that these benefits are observed in all seasons, as several of our studies have been conducted in winter."