Rural Tranquillity Calms The Brain

If you’ve always found that scenes of rural tranquillity help you de-stress and calm down you’ll probably be interested in the results of a 2013 study carried out by researchers at Exeter University.

In a nutshell, they found that scenes of rural tranquillity stimulated the parts of our brain associated with feeling calm and at peace, whereas scenes of busy urban environments created feelings of confusion, anxiety and aggression.

Interestingly, the participants in this study weren’t actually in environments of rural tranquillity or urban activity as this study was taking place – they were just being shown pictures of such environments as the neurological activity in differing parts of their brain was being measured by an MRI scanner!

The results of this study seem to suggest that we humans might have a hard wired evolutionary preference for calm rural environments, whereas busy urban environments are ultimately perceived to be more stressful to be in.

And – with our ever increasing awareness of the many damaging effects of a chronically activated stress response – studies such as this one help reinforce the importance of exposing ourselves to the beauty of nature (in reality if possible, but even via a photograph if it’s not) in order to help us stay calm and better able to cope with the unavoidable stresses of modern living.

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