Nature documentary provides a perfect prescription for the blues
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Feeling stressed and uninspired? Plagued by anxiety, fear or fatigue? A new study conducted by BBC Worldwide in conjunction with the University of California at Berkeley prescribes not a drug or meditation podcast, but some quality time watching a nature documentary.
The research, overseen by Berkeley psychology professor Dacher Keltner, confirms that even short engagement with nature footage leads to significant increases in positive emotions such as awe, contentedness, joy and amusement. A quick scroll through a newsfeed full of kittens, puppies and mother giraffes giving birth suggests your Facebook friends may have been onto something.
In the study, over 7,500 people from the U.S., U.K., Singapore, India, South Africa and Australia had their mood and outlook measured before and after watching clips from a range of TV programs including news, dramas and the nature documentary series "Planet Earth II." The results showed that women experienced a more dramatic positive change when viewing the clips, and people between the ages of 16 and 24 showed the biggest drop in nervousness, overburden and fatigue, but results trended positively for the entire group.
You may not be surprised to find the research was commissioned with the BBC's "Planet Earth II," now available for streaming on BBC America's website.
"The shifts in emotion demonstrated in the BBC study as a result of watching this powerful natural history series are significant as we know that wonder and contentment are the foundations of human happiness," Keltner, an expert on emotion, said in news release.
This study, titled "The True Happiness Project," adds to a growing body of scientific evidence establishing that a connection to nature is critical to a person's health and well-being. All current research seems to indicate that access to nature, both physical and on film and in imagery, can help reduce and manage the stress of modern life. In response to the study, BBC Earth has launched a website where you can find lots of happiness-inducing animal clips and personalize cute animal content via a "Happybot."
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