Nature reduces stress
Research has shown that nature and gardens relieve stress and increase people’s well-being. In her doctoral thesis at the Department of Stress Medicine at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) at Alnarp, Eva Sahlin is investigating the significance of nature and gardens in the rehabilitation of people with stress-related ill health.
People who are suffering on account of stress come to Green Rehab. The combination of nature and the garden plus established methods of psysiotherapy, occupational therapy and psychotherapy have helped many to recovery.
In connection with Green Rehab's activities, Eva Sahlin is busy doing research into the significance of a natural green environment for the rehabilitation of stress-related ill health. Among other things she is interviewing people on long-term sick leave about their participation in the activities and how they have experienced their rehabilitation:
"I want to investigate how effective Green Rehab is compared with other types of rehabilitation for people with this type of ill health", Eva Sahlin tells us. How people suffering from stress-related ill health experience the various stages of rehabilitation is also important."
Eva Sahlin's research is very valuable since few studies about green rehabilitation have been carried out with individuals who really are ill on account of stress. Also, her research on preventative measures against stress-related ill health is unique.
"Much personal suffering would be avoidable if we can help people in time and stop them from getting really ill", says Eva Sahlin. "The social benefits would also be very great."
Relaxation indoors or outdoors in natural surroundings
"Many of Green Rehab's participants experience relaxation exercises out of doors in natural surroundings as a very positive aspect", recounts Eva Sahlin. "That's why I've carried out a special study to investigate if relaxation out of doors in natural surroundings is more effective than indoors."
52 people aged between 20 and 70, with varying backgrounds, have participated in the investigation. The test persons have been allowed to listen to a recorded relaxation exercise for 30 minutes. They have either been sitting down indoors or out of doors in natural and garden surroundings. Before and after the relaxation exercise, their concentration and attention were tested. Their stress levels were also measured with the aid of a self-assessment questionnaire.
"I've just started analysing the results of the study", says Eva Sahlin."It'll be very exciting to see if it's possible to measure any difference between relaxation indoors and out of doors! Have the participants' general stress levels any significance? And has a relaxation exercise in natural surroundings as great an effect if city and traffic noise can be heard in the background, compared with if it's almost totally silent?"
Eva Sahlin bubbles over with enthusiasm for her research:
"I myself have got so much joy out of nature and gardens", she smiles. "When I get frustrated then I go out and rake leaves and feel how my irritation just evaporates."