Inaccessible peaks, enchanted forests, green meadows and streams with crystal-clear water – nature fascinates us with its beauty and versatility. It is a place of relaxation that we associate with inner peace, physical activity and distance from our stressful everyday lives.
The proverbial nature recreation effect has been proven many times over by science. Whether children, residents, workers, senior citizens in nursing homes or business people in the city centre, they can all benefit from the positive effects of an environment designed close to nature. Reason enough to take a closer look at our relationship with nature, which is deeply anchored in our genes, in the following sections.
Nature as a counterbalance to the modern world
Are we losing touch with nature?
Modern civilisation as we have created it leaves little room for encountering our natural surroundings in everyday life. Between asphalted roads, traffic noise and high house walls that obscure the view of the landscape, there is hardly any space left in many residential areas for green recreational areas and habitats for plants and animals.
Time and time again, there is talk of an alienation of the younger generations from nature. Even basic knowledge about the creatures on our own doorstep is being lost. Instead, media consumption is on the rise. In 2019, young people spent an average of 58 hours a week online. 
Experiencing nature as a respite from everyday life
Although nature is disappearing more and more from our everyday lives, the longing for it is growing in many people. At the weekend or on holiday, we often make great efforts to get out of civilisation and into the countryside. There are also countless pictures of particularly beautiful or spectacular natural places in the social media. One could speak of a romanticism of nature to which many people are addicted. Particularly charming areas attract such large crowds that the recreational effect quickly turns into the opposite. Even hiking, which has fallen out of fashion in the meantime, is back in trend.
The manifold effects of nature
Relaxation in nature
When we are in a natural environment, we can hardly help but relax. Studies show that the concentration of stress hormones decreases significantly when we spend time in nature. Blood pressure and pulse rate drop. This has not only to do with the fact that in a natural environment mental and physical stress factors are absent. A natural surrounding has a direct positive effect on our emotional world. Surely you know the feeling of relaxation after a holiday or an excursion in the countryside.
Short walks particularly effective for recovery
Scientists at the University of Michigan were able to prove that walks of 20-30 minutes in the countryside are particularly effective in reducing stress. In an analysis, the concentration of the stress indicators cortisol and alpha-amylase in the saliva of the test persons dropped by more than 20 percent in such a time span. Even longer walks increased the restorative effect, but the additional effect was significantly weaker. 
A better working atmosphere
Natural elements are also very beneficial for the working atmosphere. A window into the greenery provides satisfaction and helps concentration. Office plants have a similar effect. According to a study, employees work about 15 percent more effectively with an attractive indoor greenery. They also perceive themselves as more productive, suffer less pressure and rate their workplace as nicer overall. 
Green inner cities boost sales
Businesses also benefit from a green environment. Customers are happy to accept longer journeys to do their errands in a leafy shopping street. They feel more comfortable while shopping and are willing to spend more money. No wonder, then, that they are also more satisfied with their overall shopping experience.
A view of the green helps to get healthy
Even patients can benefit from a natural design in their hospital room. In one study, researchers investigated the influence of a window looking into nature on the recovery of patients after gallbladder surgery. The people who could look through a window into the greenery were discharged from hospital earlier on average. They also needed smaller amounts of painkillers and suffered less from post-operative complications. 
Children are still at the beginning of their mental and physical development process. As they grow up, they benefit in many ways from being close to green spaces. On the one hand, physical activity in the fresh air is part of a healthy lifestyle. However, several studies indicate that a natural environment also has a beneficial effect on mental development. A natural environment also improves self-esteem. Children and adolescents with ADHD who lived in areas with more green spaces often have less severe symptoms. However, it must be taken into account that neighbourhoods close to nature are usually also linked to better social and economic conditions for growing up.  
Our primal instincts determine what we like
In our natural environment, our biotope, we therefore feel comfortable and find recreation. We feel much more comfortable than in an artificially created environment made of steel and concrete. Which form of nature and landscape we particularly like depends on various factors. Almost all people, whether they come from Africa, Asia or Europe, prefer a savannah-like landscape with many water holes. This preference can be explained from an evolutionary perspective.
Our early ancestors probably lived in such savannah landscapes. The clear field of vision made it possible to spot enemies and prey from a long distance. A green landscape with many waterholes promised plenty of food, and solitary trees offered protection from wind and weather. Even today, we feel particularly comfortable in an open green environment, although this landscape is unfortunately rarely found. In civilisation, golf courses, for example, fulfil the criteria for such a feel-good landscape. 
Meditative calm in nature
Many stimuli in nature are not classified as a threat by our brain, in contrast to construction sites or traffic noise in modern civilisation. Birdsong, the sound of the sea, raindrops, they all have a relaxing effect on us.
We could speak of a restful outer silence that we feel in nature with all its natural background noises. This outer silence enables us to find inner peace as well. An important element in all meditative exercises. You can find more in-depth information on the topic of silence in this knowledge article.
A piece of nature recreation for your home?
We don’t always have the opportunity to go out into nature to recover in acute stress situations. But we don’t necessarily have to. Even beautiful pictures of nature on the wall at home or sounds of nature played on a music system or headphones have a relaxing, meditative effect on us. So we can bring relaxation into our everyday lives.
Meditations with nature sounds for relaxation
The sonamedic meditation app combines nature sounds with guided meditation, music and binaural beats to create atmospheric thought journeys. So you can effortlessly find inner peace and recharge your batteries at home or during a break at work.
A large variety of birds makes as happy as a good salary
Birds make happy
Birds make people happy, as a study by the Senckenberg Research Center for Biodiversity and Climate shows. The researchers found that people who lived in an environment with many different bird species were particularly satisfied with their lives. If the number of bird species increases, this makes people even happier than a decent increase in salary. Of course, a large bird diversity also indicates more near-natural spaces that can also be used for recreation. So bird diversity is only one characteristic of an intact environment. 
A bird house for seniors
What brings more joy to your own garden than a colourful flock of birds settling down at the feeder to feast together? Whether sparrow, titmouse, robin or special visitors like nuthatch and hawfinch, bird watching is fun for many people.
In a scientifically accompanied project, this experience was also made accessible to nursing home residents. Because in many institutions, people in need of care suffer from a high loss of quality of life. So birdhouses were set up in the homes where the residents could observe the feathered guests.
The seniors were happy
More than half of the senior citizens interviewed observed the hustle and bustle at the feed house several times a week. Many said that the project reminded them of experiences from their childhood and youth. The bird watching was a welcome change and relaxation from the often dreary everyday life at home.
Both scientists and senior citizens were able to discover many other positive effects. The residents were happy about the mental stimulation they got from watching the birds. Overall, they felt more comfortable and socially connected. Their mobility was also enhanced by bird watching. Many seniors visited the bird feeding station daily. 
 Michael Bosch, Stuttgarter Nachrichten: Deutsche Jugendliche sind 58 Stunden pro Woche online, 10.10.2019, Online.
 Terry Hartig, Richard Mitchell, Sjerp de Vries, and Howard Frumkin: Nature and Health, 2014, Online.
 MaryCarol Hunter, Brenda Gillespie, Sophie Yu-Pu Chen: Urban Nature Experiences Reduce Stress in the Context of Daily Life Based on Salivary Biomarkers, 2019, Online.
 Andrew Smith, Matthew Tucker, Michael Pitt: Healthy, productive workplaces: towards a case for interior plantscaping, 2011, Online.
 University of Exter: 31.08.2014: Why Plants in the office make us more productive, Online.
 Rainer Brämer: Grün tut uns gut: Daten und Fakten zur Renaturierung des Hightech-Menschen, 2008, Seite 57f, Online.
 Rainer Brämer: Grün tut uns gut: Daten und Fakten zur Renaturierung des Hightech-Menschen, 2008, Seite 12, Online.
 Aaron Reuben, Loise Arsenault, Daniel W. Belsky, Avshalom Caspi, Helene Fisher, Renate Houts, Terrie Moffitt, Candice Odgers: Residential neighborhood greenery and childrens cognitive development, 2019, Online.
 Rainer Brämer: Grün tut uns gut: Daten und Fakten zur Renaturierung des Hightech-Menschen, 2008, Online.
 Denise Jeitziner: Der Kick für den Kopf. Nicht entspannt uns Menschen so zuverlässig wie die Natur, Online.
 Joel Methorst, Katrin Rehdanz, Thamas Mueller, Bernd Hansjürgens, Aletta Bonn, Katrin Böhning-Gaese: The importance of species diversity for human well-being in Europe, 2021, Online.
 Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Kals, Patricia Zieries: Alle Vögel sind schon da – Vogelbeobachtung in vollstationären Pflegeeinrichtungen, 2020, Online.