Many health benefits, like increased feelings of happiness, come along with spending time in the beauty of Mother Nature. But, what if you don’t like being outside? Could sitting indoors watching nature documentaries give you the same positive effects? Yes, according to a new study.
Dacher Keltner, a psychologist from UC Berkeley, collaborated with BBC Earth, which commissioned the study, to see if nature videos and positive emotions such as awe, peace, and happiness are connected.
In their study, more than 7,500 people across the globe viewed online clips of the wildlife documentary “Planet Earth II,” a popular drama, and news coverage.
Before watching the clips, the participants took a short survey about their current mood. While they were watching the documentary, their emotions were measured in real-time using facial mapping technology. Afterwards, they took another test and further questionnaire to assess their mood and outlook on the footage, according to a news release on Medical Xpress.
As Keltner expected, the wildlife clips increased positive emotions and decreased negative ones, compared to news, drama, and emotionally neutral footage.
The subjects experienced increased feelings of many emotions including wonder, excitement, contentment, and amusement. They also had decreased feelings of anxiety, stress, and fatigue.
The results of this study prompted the BBC to launch the Real Happiness Project, which advocates for connecting as many people as possible to the world around us.
If nature documentaries aren’t your cup of tea, head outside. Hundreds of studies have linked being outside to positive health effects such as improved short-term memory, stress relief, and an immune system boost.