Outdoor Journaling in Nichols Arboretum: A Study in Mental Health and the Power of Green Spaces

Author: Lily Johns 

Edited by: Lihan Xie, Genesis Rodriguez, Kristina Lenn, and Sarah Kearns

 

The Restorative Effects of Nature

“People in all walks of life, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad times, find in nature something that comforts and restores” (Kaplans, 1995, pg. 175). 

University of Michigan faculty members Rachel Kaplan and the late Stephen Kaplan pioneered much of the research on the role of natural environments in benefitting well-being that exists today. With a multitude of publications, their research encompasses a variety of topics surrounding human cognition and the environment, notably the restorative effect that nature can have on the mind. According to the Kaplans, the restorative effect of nature is traced back to its role in preventing and ameliorating “directed attention fatigue”. Stephen Kaplan outlines the theory and importance of “directed attention”, which “plays a central role in achieving focus…and controls distraction.” This ‘directed attention’ is “susceptible to fatigue,” which often occurs due to a limited ability to direct their attention and leads to impulsivity, irritability, and distraction (Kaplan, 1995, pg. 17)

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