Yet Another Reason to Stay With Us...Your Health!
Posted on July 1, 2013 by ButtermilkAdmin
When many of our guests leave, they remark about how relaxed and refreshed they feel, and about how rejuvenating and mind-clearing their stay had been. While we like to think that this is due to all of the wonderful staff who work here, the answer is more rooted in science, and more specifically, how the human mind correlates mental well-being with their surroundings.
According to The Guardian, a study was recently conducted by the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH) in Plymouth, UK, probing into whether the environment that a person resides in has any effect on their well-being. The head of ECEHH, Michael Depledge, teamed up with environmental psychologist Mat White to delve into what effects an environment has on a person’s well-being, by following up on what previous environmental scientist, Roger Ulrich, had studied.
“By showing photographs of a variety of landscapes to a group of participants, Ulrich was able to demonstrate that stress levels were lowered according to how much greenery was in the picture. The difference this time was that, “we started introducing water into the images”, says Depledge, “going from a pond right through to a coastline, with increasing amounts of water in the images, and we found that people showed a strong preference for more and more water in the images.
“‘We repeated that with urban scenes, from fountains in squares to canals running through the city, and once again people hugely preferred the urban environments with more water in them.’
“Images with green space received a positive response, as Ulrich has found. But images with both green and blue got the most favorable response of all.”
Following the results of Ulrich’s study, Depledge and White found that residents of the UK who live coastally are often physically and mentally healthier than those who do not, based on a poll of people who lived close to the coast, and those who do not. Additionally, the ECEHH found that the use of aquariums in elderly homes and waiting rooms of hospitals improved the mood and relaxation of a majority of people polled.
However, why does water have such a calming effect on us? From the article:
“There are all sorts of intriguing possibilities. One is that human beings have evolved in intimate contact with nature, and it is only really in the last 200 years that people have been increasingly removed from nature. Professor Sir Alister Hardy first suggested that the big step in human evolution was not necessarily when hominids came out of the trees and into the savannah, but was when they got to the coast and were able to access sea food rich in omega 3 fatty acids … there is something deeply profound about water and humans, and it may reflect evolutionary history.
“Someone else who is trying to find the answer is Jenny Roe, lecturer in the School of the Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. At the forefront of research into “green health”, Roe is looking at cortisol as a physiological measure of how the body responds to different environments.
“We’ve also just published a study using a mobile neural cap which taps into brain activity and can give an objective measure of stress in different [green] environments,” Roe says. “But ‘blue health’ really lags way behind – it has started a bit like green health did, with laboratory experiments using photographic images and there’s nothing wrong with that, but we’ve got other methods now, and that’s what we’re keen here in Scotland to press on with.”
“Roe highlights the potential for geographic differences. “It does require geographic studies in specific climate zones to tease out whether the effect of water is as great under a cloudy sky as it is in sunny climes. The south-west of England is very different climatically to a country like Scotland.”
So, it looks like the jury is still out as to why, specifically, a body of water has a calming, relaxing effect on people. However, we do know that water does have a calming, relaxing effect to begin with.
Additionally, as the article mentions, “blue health,” or the effects of water on mental health is still in its infancy somewhat, “green health” – or the way plants and foliage improve our mental health – is a well-established area of study.
From this article on Jewish Times:
“Scientific research has shown that hospital patients whose windows looked out at landscape scenery recovered from surgery more quickly than those who faced a brick wall. Other studies found that just viewing a garden can reduce blood pressure and pulse rate and can even increase brain endorphins that promote mood-lifting feelings.
These experiments suggest that we do more than just enjoy contact with plants and flowers – they relax and refresh us after a stressful time. These findings are the basis for the science of Horticultural Therapy, which is a professionally conducted, client centered treatment modality that utilizes plants and gardening activities to meet specific rehabilitative goals for disabled clients.
It is a very effective treatment for ill individuals in hospitals, schools, prisons, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and mental health clinics. These clients may exert control over their environment by growing and nurturing plants and this both combats depression and cultivates a sense of empowerment and satisfaction. The sensory stimulation derived from exposure to nature promotes healing.
So come, sit poolside at our spa and watch the lolling waves of the Hudson River and our lush, green grass and trees sway back and forth, and relax, and unwind.