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Natures Therapy: The Calming Power of Water

Finding moments of peace in our chaotic ways of life may seem impossible at times. But according to new research, all it could take to unwind is to gaze at a natural body of water. According to a study conducted in a school arboretum, looking at water features like lakes, pools, streams, or oceans for a minimum of two minutes provides substantial physiological and psychological benefits to the human body. This supports the belief that nature—especially water—is essential for promoting relaxation. 

The Study: Methodology 

Researchers examined the effects of viewing water versus adjacent ground at six different sites along a creek in a university arboretum. The study involved 73 participants who alternated their gaze between the water and the ground for specified periods. The physiological effects, including heart rate and blood pressure, along with subjective ratings of relaxation, were carefully recorded.

Key Findings:

  1. Reduced Heart Rate and Blood Pressure: When watching water as opposed to the land, participants' heart rates and blood pressure significantly decreased at all sites. This physiological reaction suggests that fixating on water has a slight relaxing effect.

  1. Subjective Relaxation Ratings: Looking at water consistently made participants feel more relaxed. When comparing smaller sections of the creek to areas with broad views of the water, like lakes, this effect was more noticeable.


This study emphasizes the significant influence that natural bodies of water can have on our mental and physical health. By spending a few moments a day looking at water, we can tap into a natural, accessible way to reduce stress and boost relaxation, underscoring our deep-rooted connection with the natural world. 

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Coss, Richard G., and Craig M. Keller. “Transient decreases in blood pressure and heart rate with increased subjective level of relaxation while viewing water compared with adjacent ground.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 81, June 2022, p. 101794,  




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