Fractal patterns are noticed by people of all ages, even small children, and have significant calming effects.
- A new study from the University of Oregon found that, by the age of three, children understand and prefer nature's fractal patterns.
- A "fractal" is a pattern that the laws of nature repeat at different scales. Exact fractals are ordered in such a way that the same basic pattern repeats exactly at every scale, like the growth spiral of a plant, for example.
- Separate studies have proven that exposure to fractal patterns in nature can reduce your stress levels significantly.
Fractal patterns are evident in nature as well as in some man-made art, architecture and sculptures.
Credit: Anikakodydkova on Adobe Stock<p>The research team explored how individual differences in processing styles might account for trends in fractal fluency. Researchers exposed participants to images of fractal patterns (exact and statistical), ranging in complexity on computer screens.</p><p>The ages of the participants were:</p><ul><li>82 adults (between the ages of 18-33)</li><li>96 children (between the ages of 3-10)</li></ul><p>When viewing these patterns, the participants chose favorites between pairs of images that differed in complexity. When looking at exact fractal patterns, selections involved different pairs of snowflake-like or branch-like images. For statistical fractals, selections involved choosing between pairs of cloud-like images. </p><p>Although there were some differences in the preferences of adults and children, the overall trends were similar: exact patterns with greater complexity were more preferred. This study confirms that these preference trends are apparent in early childhood, suggesting that the appreciation for common fractal aesthetics is formed earlier in our development than previously thought. </p><p>Prior to this study, exposure to fractal patterns might have been expected to vary across the lifespan of a person due to environmental and developmental patterns. Instead, this study found a consistent preference across childhood and through adulthood which suggests a stable fractal aesthetic is established early in life. There is a possibility, according to this study, that an early biological or evolutionary mechanism optimizes our visual system for processing fractals. </p>
Fractal patterns can be used to significantly reduce stress<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk1OTg2OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMjQ3MjQ0N30._vBGVkgp9RLj9wIBG-RC9sy5-LlSkrNVFqZ6N1Wqm2A/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C618%2C0%2C618&height=700" id="3a2ba" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ff0d89c69acb5ade6f8006e68504fda0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="fern plant fractal pattern in nature" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Fractal patterns and designs can reduce your stress by up to 60%, according to research.
Credit: MNStudio on Adobe Stock<p>The term "fractal" was first coined in 1975 by Benoit Mandelbrot, who discovered that simple mathematic rules apply to a vast array of things that often looked visually complex. Since then, many studies have been conducted on what fractals are, where we find them, and even how they impact us.</p><p>The study above, mentioning the positive benefits that fractals have in even small children, becomes particularly interesting when you begin to understand the potential benefits we derive from even minimal exposure to fractal patterns. </p><p><strong>Fractal patterns can reduce stress by up to 60 percent, according to <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/codes-joy/201209/fun-fractals#:~:text=The%20results%20of%20many%20studies,physiological%20resonance%20within%20the%20eye." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Psychology Today</a>. </strong></p><p>Exposure to fractal patterns in nature can reduce your stress levels significantly. It seems this kind of stress reduction most often occurs because of a certain physiological resonance within the eye. While this effect is most prominent in nature's fractal patterns, some research indicates that certain types of artwork carrying fractal patterns can also promote relaxation.</p><p><strong>How can you use fractals to feel happier? </strong></p><p>A separate <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/codes-joy/201209/fun-fractals" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Psychology Today</a> article focuses on how to use our knowledge of the positive benefits of fractals to our advantage. To take a walk in nature, visit a park or garden or sit and watch the clouds for a while, paying special attention to the patterns you see can help you include this kind of relaxation practice into your daily life. Alternatively, you can opt for a visually pleasing fractal plant (like the spiral aloe or a fern) to sit at your office desk. </p><p>Additionally, you can conduct some "research" of your own by placing yourself in fractal-rich environments for 20 minutes a day for one week and monitoring your stress levels before and after. </p>
There are countless studies that prove ecotherapy (often referred to as nature therapy) is beneficial for your physical and mental health.
- What was once considered a simple practice and ideology about the benefits of nature has been proven in multiple studies to positively impact our physical and mental health.
- Some of the benefits of spending time in nature can be: a boost in killer-cells that fight off viruses, an ability to maintain focus and improvement in mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.
- To explain the all-encompassing benefits of nature, the Japanese have coined the term "shinrin yoku", which translates to "forest bathing."
How nature therapy works to better your physical and mental health<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4ODczOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MzAxMDI2MX0.vJdHUPtd6Ca9gwe0okWsDNdjLEq0HCdsfHfKewgykyI/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C263%2C0%2C263&height=700" id="515cd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="138dd9a6e3620f581b2a2d2816c6d83f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="forest and trees concept of nature therapy ecotherapy" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
A simple walk in the forest can have more of a positive impact on your health than you may realize.
Beautiful? Yes. Air purifiers? Not so fast.
- A new meta-analysis at Drexel University shows that house plants are not effective for purifying the air of toxins.
- A 1989 NASA report that claimed indoor plants are purifying was not conducted in realistic living conditions.
- Indoor plants have positive effects on our mental health, just not in regards to air quality.
Jill Valley-Orlando organizes houseplants from a recent shipment in the greenhouse at Broadway Gardens on Wednesday, January 16, 2019.
Staff photo by Brianna Soukup/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images<p>This matters as humans spend, on average, 90 percent of their time indoors. On top of this, Cummings and Waring note that, "Much, though not all, of indoor pollution is sourced directly from the indoor environment itself." Air fresheners, paints, glues, printers, and permanent markers (among other manufactured products) add VOCs into the air we breathe. Poor indoor air quality has been implicated in a variety of health risks, including respiratory diseases and headaches.</p><p>All is not lost, however. As the authors note, "Indoor plants, by helping to create a more biophilic indoor environment, may have a positive impact on occupant well-being." However, they write that indoor plants have a tendency to raise humidity levels. Some even produce VOCs of their own.</p><p>Nothing is ever a clear-cut as it seems. This is not a call for removing house plants. They make a lovely addition to home and office environments. We just have to recognize that their appeal is aesthetic and emotional, not as agents in our long quest for purity. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. His next book is </em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy.</p>
Research explains the positive impact and health benefits of children spending more time in nature.
- "Nature-deficit disorder" is the term coined by author Richard Louv, to help put a name to the ever-growing problems associated with children spending less time in nature.
- Research has provided evidence that prove Richard Louv's theories on the importance of nature to the human body and mind. This research proves a link between time spent in nature and improvements in areas such as motivation, problem-solving and self-esteem.
- There are many simple, actionable ways parents and educators of young children can incorporate nature back into the lives of children both in school and at home, such as starting outdoor playgroups or reintegrating nature into the school curriculum.
What do our children lose by not experiencing enough nature?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYwMTAxOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNDkxMzIzMn0.6Nv9gWaCR3JAEAX50PKR_4Qotf4kpvM42qODWSz45N0/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C589%2C0%2C589&height=700" id="39022" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3536da120f23b881a2dbe3ef6cb051f4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="young girl in jeans running through the trees in nature" />
Multiple research studies have proven the positive impacts time spent in nature has on the growing mind and body.
Researchers have gathered evidence that proves exposure to nature is important to the physical and mental health of children<p>The American Institutes for Research (AIR) <a href="http://www.seer.org/pages/research/AIROutdoorSchool2005.pdf" target="_blank">conducted another study in 2005</a> that focused on 255 sixth-grade students from elementary schools across California. These students attended three outdoor education programs between the months of September and November.</p><p>The study evaluated the children across eight different constructs: self-esteem, cooperation, conflict resolution, leadership, relationship with peers, problem-solving ability, motivation to learn and overall behavior in class. </p><p>The children were split into two camps: One group of students did the outdoor schooling sessions first, and the other group was used as a baseline and would do the same outdoor schooling sessions after the first program had finished.</p><p>Ten weeks after the first study concluded, the positive change in the children was very obviously noted in the post-experiment surveys, with the children who attended the outdoor schooling sessions first showing large improvements in the area of conflict resolution. </p><p>The remaining group of children who had not yet completed the outdoor schooling sessions scored significantly lower across 7 of the 8 constructs that were being measured. </p><p>The teachers of the children were also asked to submit surveys (separate from the surveys done by the researchers) about the children before and after the experiment. According to the before and after remarks of the teachers, the children who attended outdoor schooling in the first camp showed significant positive gains in the areas of self-esteem, problem-solving, motivation to learn, and behavior in class. </p><p>Along with these findings, it was also discovered that the students who attended the outdoor training sessions raised their grades in the science department by up to 27% (according to the pre-survey and post-survey answers). This increase in grades was maintained for up to 10 weeks following the program. </p>
How parents (and educators) can easily and affordably reconnect children with nature<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjYwMTAyMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2ODE2ODQxNn0.hLNV1GcClUsskHJunHV8tAXGeR3tfH-riZZXdO4APmg/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C431%2C0%2C431&height=700" id="08277" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="af1bde198bd6875d9a15a7c0fcaad412" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="three boys lying outside under a tree with leaves on a sunny day" />
There are many easy and affordable ways you can incorporate nature back into your child's life.
Designers from Luxembourg created a smart planter that can give anyone a green thumb.
- A design team came up with a smart planter that can indicate 15 emotions.
- The emotions are derived from the sensors placed in the planter.
- The device is not in production yet but you can order it through a crowdfunding campaign.