A new study by ZENB Veggie Bites has found that just five minutes in nature is more beneficial for over half of adults in the UK than a 60 minute massage, a bubble bath or relaxing music. 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay

On an working average day, UK adults spend just an hour outside and on weekends this extends to 2-3 hours. But is it enough?

The results show that nature is a powerful tool for our mental and physical health and the good news is- you don’t need to spend long periods outside in order to enjoy the benefits. 

A whopping 83% of UK adults believe that being outdoors is nature’s stress reliever and with the country in the midst of another lockdown- this news couldn’t come at a better time. 

The brand which has partnered with i2 media research at Goldsmiths University of London, found that our mood was dependent on the type of natural setting.

Blue environments such as the sea, rivers and lakes are the most inspiring and encourage happy feelings.   

Woodlands help with clarity and mountainous regions are conducive with optimism. 

Meadows and other open settings are thought to inspire excitement in a person. So if you can, tailor your environment for the feeling you are trying to conjure up.  

The afternoon slump is still a problem even when working from home and the study found that those who were struggling experienced greater productivity after seeing a woodland, water, sea or river scene.

Lockdown has had many benefits- one of which is that more people now spend time outdoors and make it a priority in their day. 

Not everyone is in a position to leave their place of work. Others don’t live in or near a rural setting- so for these people- they benefited from simply seeing nature in a picture, video or looking at it through a window.

So why is nature so popular with people right now and why does it lift our mood? It’s a combination of factors- some feel it connects them to the world, for others it brings back happy memories from childhood and for many it’s an excuse not to look at a screen.  

To expand on the research linking nature and feelings ZENB has partnered with passionate chef, author and nature aficionado Jasmine Hemsley to create a podcast series drawing on personal experiences and the importance of encouraging people to harness the power of small doses of natural goodness. 

Jasmine Hemsley, host of the ZENB Bites of Nature podcast says, “This research demonstrates really neatly how even ‘snackable’ portions of nature can improve your wellbeing. I’ve always believed in the power of nature but to see it confirmed via this study is really compelling  – the fact that scenes such as woodlands can have such a benefit by inspiring clarity of mind and that the sea can soothe anxiety, is so important at this time when so many of us are experiencing such uncertainty and upheaval.

“I’ve been inspired by these results to create the ZENB Bites of Nature podcast and loved chatting to my fellow nature-lovers and guests in the series, on the results, our favourite experiences in the natural world and my guided mindfulness exercises on how to enjoy nature in all her glory”.

The podcast, entitled Bites of Nature, sees Jasmine Hemsley speak to five guests; TV presenter AJ Odudu; outdoor enthusiast and breath extraordinaire Richie Bostock aka The Breath Guy; rock climber, yoga teacher and Personal Trainer Kim Hartwell; Pro Kitesurfer and extreme sports athlete Hannah Whiteley; and incredible botanist and TV star James Wong.

Each bite-sized episode contains a bespoke mediation from Jasmine herself which aims to transport the listeners to  the environment that the show is centered around. 

Episode One: Meadows and Mindfulness with AJ Odudu (released 16th November)

Hear AJ Odudu speaking to Jasmine about the freedom of running outside, connecting with her wild side by embracing her inner child and why jumping in muddy puddles is good for you. 

Episode Two: Chasing Waterfalls with Richie Bostock (released 18th November)

Richie shares the power of breath to reduce stress and anxiety and how the natural world helps this too. The episode ends with Richie leading a breathwork session to whisk listeners away to a world of waterfalls and experience the power first-hand of a few deep breaths.

Episode Three: Mountains That Move You with Kim Hartwell (released 23rd November) Kim discusses the power and freedom of the mountaintops, how climbing helped to form her perspective on modern life and tips to enjoy simple bites of nature during lockdown that will keep you feeling energized and motivated.

Episode Four: Into the Blue with Hannah Whiteley (released 30th November)

Hannah chats about the importance of being present in the natural world for our wellbeing, as well as the humbling experience of being amongst the high tides. She discusses the magnetism of the ocean, why she got into kitesurfing and how the outdoors can be used to exercise the mind as well as the body.

Episode 5: Woodland Wonders with James Wong (released 7th December)

James Wong shares his thoughts on where to find the most beautiful spots in nature, from the greenery of London parks to butterfly hotspots in the English countryside. Plus, James and Jasmine swap tips on how to maintain your houseplants to create wild and luscious views from an inner-city windowsill.

Dominic Melliss, MD of ZENB UK commented, “The last six months has been challenging for a lot of people but one thing our research has revealed is the power of nature to alter our moods. A fifth of people (21%) said that they felt less anxious after spending just thirty minutes or less in nature, showing how just small snackable amounts can have a big impact. We hope our new ‘Bites of Nature’ podcast will encourage people to get into the great outdoors, even if they only have five minutes - and our latest plant powered product Veggie Bites, with their resealable pouches, are the perfect accompaniment for a brisk Autumn outdoors walk.”

It was also found that it’s not just the sights of nature that improve mood but also the sounds. Birdsong, wind and running water all help to calm the participants. So if you are feeling stressed, listen to the sound of crushing leaves, raindrops or crops blowing in the wind.

The ZENB Bites of Nature podcast can be found on the ZENB website at https://zenb.co.uk/pages/podcasts and is available on all usual platforms 

Top tips from ZENB for bettering your mood via nature, wherever you are:

Spending time in any natural setting can boost mood, wellbeing and self-reported creativity so spend extra time outside where you can, this may only need be a 10-minute walk around the local park but enjoy this time for yourself with no distractions from technology

Any time you can spend experiencing nature can help - even a snack sized break in your day – if your schedule is packed try micro doses of just three minutes every few hours 

If you’re unable to leave the house, take a few minutes for yourself each day and try immersing yourself in a short (or long, if you have time) video of natural landscapes as these can have similar positive effects 

If you’re in a slump working from home, or you’re feeling the pressures of burn-out, get out and experience a walk in a wooded area as this environment can help in boosting productivity 

If you really need a supercharged boost of positivity, being near water could help - water environments are the most effective for reducing sadness and anxiety and increasing positive effects, interest, inspiration, happiness and overall positive affect. This could just be a babbling brook if the sea isn’t close to where you live

Whether you’re getting out into nature or watching videos, choose scenes that you love and which are novel to further boost the positive effects 

Tune into the ZENB Bites of Nature podcast, and help yourself be inspired by botanists, windsurfers and rock climbers as they share their stories of how nature has motivated them.