Nature Can Strengthen Family Bonds
Walking together in a natural setting for only 20 minutes may help family members get along better. Researchers at the University of Illinois tested whether a walk in the woods or a stroll through the mall would help mothers and daughters (age 10-12) relax and reconnect better after a stressful day. They already knew that a nature walk can help reduce an individuals’ “attentional fatigue”, which is often the result of facing pressures at work or school. To see how it would affect interactions between family members they recruited 27 sets of mothers and daughters.
The result: after the nature walk, the mothers’ attention was restored significantly, leaving them less irritable and with more self control. The daughters’ attention was restored after both walks, the researchers reported, suggesting that this might be due to spending leisure time with their moms. “In nature, you can relax and restore your attention, which is needed to help you concentrate better,” noted study leader Dina Izenstark, who noted that a 20-minute nature walk could also help other family members relax and better reconnect.
Dina Izenstark and Aaron T. Ebata, “The Effects of the Natural Environment on Attention and Family Cohesion: An Experimental Study. Children, Youth and Environments, 2017, DOI:10.7721/chilyoutenvi.27.2.0093
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