Can’t get outside? Watching nature videos can boost your mood, study says

Oct. 28, 2020

Feeling the winter blues a little early this year? Watching nature videos could improve your mood, according to a recent study.

We’ve known for years that spending time in nature can have positive effects on mental and physical health. Researchers at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom wondered if they could bring this healing power a step further by having their participants stay inside but still have access to natural imagery.

Here’s how the study worked: Researchers first showed their 96 participants a video of a worker describing a job at an office supply company. Once the subjects felt thoroughly bored, the researchers switched to scenes from a coral reef, either on TV, via a 360-degree-video or using an interactive VR headset.

Participants from all three groups reported feeling less sad and less bored after experiencing the natural imagery. Subjects who could interact with images via the VR headset felt even better, reporting increased feelings of happiness, as well as a strengthened connection with nature.

(By the way – we made our own playlist of relaxing spots we’ve visited in nature. Check it out at the top of this post).

Researchers hope these findings could help relieve stress in an age of lockdowns and approaching cold weather.

“Our results show that simply watching nature on TV can help to lift people’s mood and combat boredom,” Nicky Yeo, a lead researcher on the study, said in a news release. “With people around the world facing limited access to outdoor environments because of COVID-19 quarantines, this study suggests that nature programs might offer an accessible way for populations to benefit from a ‘dose’ of digital nature.”

TV programs and VR headsets are great, but what if you only had to look out your window to experience nature? We suspect that watching a flowing waterfall or seeing the splendor of a late autumn pond would have improved the subjects’ moods just as much, if not more.

> Don’t have a pond yet? We can help

Ecosystem Ponds offer beauty and relaxation year-round, even when the weather’s too cold to go for a swim. So if you’re feeling a little down this winter, try spending a quiet moment by your window. Look out over your pond, enjoy a warm cup of coffee and take some time to appreciate the nature that’s all around us.

It certainly makes us happy.