Feeling blue? You should consider stepping outside for a few minutes. In a new study published in the Journal of Positive Energy, researchers found that participants who spent just five minutes sitting in nature experienced an increase in positive emotions. Specifically, they looked at 123 participants, and asked them to put away all electronic devices and focus on their setting (an outdoor park or a windowless room) while remaining seated for five minutes. Each person was also asked to scale a range of emotions that included both hedonic mood (emotions associated with comfort and pleasure) and self-transcendent emotions (including feelings of awe, gratitude, wonder, and a sense that you are part of something greater than yourself), both before and after being taken to each setting. The data revealed those sitting outside experienced an increase in hedonic emotions before and after the test, while those in the indoor setting did not.
Similarly, those in outdoor settings experienced a greater increase in feeling self-transcendent emotions compared to those who sat indoors. Additionally, those who spent just five minutes outside reported feeling a sense of awe. Study author Katherine Arbuthonott told PsyPost, “There are two important take homes; the first I emphasize 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.”