http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 15334.html
Here's a summary of the results:
This shift is occurring even as scientists outline the mental benefits of spending time in natural settings. According to the latest research, untamed landscapes have a restorative effect, calming our frazzled nerves and refreshing the tired cortex. After a brief exposure to the outdoors, people are more creative, happier and better able to focus. If there were a pill that delivered these same results, we'd all be popping it.
"There's a growing advantage over time to being in nature," says Dr. Atchley. "We think that it peaks after about three days of really getting away, turning off the cellphone. It's when you have an extended period of time surrounded by that softly fascinating environment that you start seeing all kinds of positive effects in how your mind works."
And if you're stuck in a concrete jungle, even a patch of greenery can make a big difference:
Scientists have found that even a relatively paltry patch of nature can confer cognitive benefits. In the late 1990s, Frances Kuo, director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois, began interviewing female residents in the Robert Taylor Homes, a massive housing project on the South Side of Chicago.
Dr. Kuo and her colleagues compared women who were randomly assigned to various apartments. Some had a view of nothing but concrete sprawl, the blacktop of parking lots and basketball courts. Others looked out on grassy courtyards filled with trees and flower beds. Dr. Kuo then measured the two groups on a variety of tasks, from basic tests of attention to surveys that looked at how the women were handling major life challenges. She found that living in an apartment with a view of greenery led to significant improvements in every category.
I love that. It helps to rationalize the time I spend most days walking in a nearby park or around a nearby lake. Perhaps I should look into finding a way to get those three-plus days away too.
Free free to share your own experiences and suggestions.
--Michael W. Perry, Untangling Tolkien