The Healing Power of Nature

A bit of green may calm a child's frayed nerves. Rural children who have access to nature seem better equipped to handle stress than kids in a room without a view. What's more, children who are the most vulnerable to stress benefit the most from adding greenery to their lives.

Nancy Wells, an environmental psychologist at Cornell University, assessed access to nature in the households of 337 children in grades three through five. She noted the number of houseplants, the amount of greenery seen from windows, and if the yard had grass, dirt or concrete.

Wells and her team also interviewed children and their parents to rate the kids' stress levels and also gave a standardized stress test. Even when controlling for income and socioeconomic status, the more green a child saw, the better he or she seemed to cope with adversity.

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And in a previous study, Wells found that children who were surrounded by nature have longer attention spans. She surmises that the added focus helps kids think more clearly, so they are better equipped to cope with life's stresses.

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