NA­TURE’S MEDICINE

Men's Health (UK) - - In This Issue -

Let Sir David’s wildlife docs ease the men­tal strain of a tough day in the ur­ban jun­gle

Here at Men’s Health we’ve never been ad­vo­cates of the stiff up­per lip. So far as we’re con­cerned, a good vent to a trusted ally – whether dur­ing your Sun­day run or over a post-work pint – is a far health­ier and more ef­fec­tive strat­egy for mood im­prove­ment than sim­ply keep­ing calm and car­ry­ing the hell on.

But we’re also aware that not ev­ery oner­ous day war­rants an hour-long dis­sec­tion. Even an emo­tion­ally evolved man such as your­self will some­times fare bet­ter with a lit­tle time of one’s own. So, the next time life’s stresses seem to be get­ting the bet­ter of you, we’d like to of­fer an­other pleas­ingly Bri­tish so­lu­tion: a few min­utes spent in the com­pany of Sir David At­ten­bor­ough.

For a re­cent study, Pro­fes­sor Dacher Kelt­ner, an ex­pert in the science of emo­tion at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­ni­aBerke­ley, asked thou­sands of vol­un­teers to re­port on how they felt be­fore and af­ter view­ing short clips of BBC na­ture doc­u­men­taries. Com­pared to news sto­ries, drama or ‘emo­tion­ally neu­tral footage’, na­ture shows were shown to in­spire greater feel­ings of joy and con­tent­ed­ness, while re­duc­ing fa­tigue and anx­i­ety. Bet­ter yet, re­sults were ob­served af­ter just three min­utes’ view­ing. It seems the well-doc­u­mented cog­ni­tive ben­e­fits of the great out­doors are also ac­ces­si­ble to the man un­will­ing to leave his sofa. (Though, for more per­ma­nent mood im­prove­ments, we’d ad­vise ven­tur­ing out as some point, too.)

So, whether you’re mar­vel­ling at mother na­ture or ab­sorb­ing your­self in the epic thriller that is ‘ Iguana vs Snakes’, you’d do well to tune in when ur­ban en­vi­rons are wear­ing you down. It is, af­ter all, a jun­gle out there.

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