Many of us have known from experience for a long time that spending time outdoors improves our moods and reduces stress. Constant stress is a killer in the modern world, so science and medicine tirelessly seek to reduce the effects of this dangerous phenomenon. Let us (lettuce?) turn to science to find some empirical evidence.
A study published in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health focused on the sympathetic (associated with fight-or-flight response) and parasympathetic (the counter that provides physiological calm) nervous systems and reactions to photos of the humble outdoors. The photo above is taken from the study Journal publication.
After viewing photos of tree-lined pathways or urban settings, university student subjects were given increasingly difficult math tests, definitely an easy way to raise stress! Heart sensors and test scores monitored stress reactions during alternating episodes of photos and math tests.
Green space pictures (the one above is from the study) caused the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in, reducing stress, lowering heart rate, etc. "Short durations of viewing green pictures may help people recover from stress", reports Magdalena van den Berg, study leader at VU University Medical Center.
Imagine what would happen if we viewed more real life plants? This is excellent justification to keep a fern on your desk! Tell your boss you need to talk a walk in the park after that meeting, for your health and productivity!
Link to Journal publication: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690962/