Article created: 20 July 2005
Stress and nature

Contact with nature can reduce stress by a third or more, says survey

Got to get the shopping, got to pick the grandkids up, got to get the car through its MOT, got to get the roof fixed. Stress is an unavoidable part of daily life, perhaps even more so if you have to do all this stuff in built-up, crowded and noisy environments.

A survey of 2,000 UK adults by Belgian Brewers Hoegaarden shows that while 30 per cent of us admit to being seriously stressed on a daily basis, 84 per cent believe that just a short walk in a park or the sight of the sea is guaranteed to lower stress instantly. As you might expect, only 19 per cent of those who live or work in rural locations say they feel stressed on a daily basis.

Britons increasingly cluster together in urban societies, which explains why one out of every 10 people in the UK haven't seen a sheep or cow for over six months and Londoners are almost as likely to have seen a mouse or rat in the last month (22 per cent), as they are a sheep (28 per cent) or a cow (28 per cent).

On average city dwellers can expect to endure 73 days before they can enjoy more than five minutes of silence, while those who live in rural areas go only 14-24 days. Shockingly, almost a quarter (22 per cent) of all Londoners haven't experienced silence for over six months.

Co-author of the Urban Oasis report Christine Webber says ‘In February of this year (2005), the TUC reported that the average UK employee does almost an extra day's work each week in overtime. Although the consequences of this work pattern are long recognised - increased sickness absences, work-place stress, low morale and serious health and safety implications - this new research reveals that our removal from natural elements also has a role in our stress levels as a nation. For the majority of us, our lives have been spent in an urban environment. With little time off, we're missing out on both the physical benefits of experiencing the great outdoors - such as exercise and fresh air, - and on the psychological benefits of sensory response to nature.'

If you're a stressed city-dweller, Hoegaarden has teamed up with the Office for Subversive Architecture to launch the Urban Oasis project - a natural pub that grows out of a turf carpet, and highlights the importance of having nature in our lives on a daily basis.


London – the Arena, Broadgate Circle (next to Liverpool Street Station), EC2M 2QS. 20 July 05 - 26 July 05

Manchester: Piccadilly Basin, Dale Street, Northern Quarter, M1 2HG. 3 August 05 – 10 August 05