And to boost your mood

Nature's mood-boosting patterns - Sussex Wildlife Trust

Moss © Richard Cobden
© Richard Cobden

Have you ever noticed how nature lifts your spirits? Does your anxiety evaporate at the sight of a horse chestnut sporting her spring finery, or your mood lighten when a shy primrose peeks out her head to check winter is over? If so, you’re not alone because simply looking at nature’s patterns has been found to reduce stress.

Imagine you’re strolling through your favourite green space. Pause to gaze at a tree, perhaps a majestic old oak or a handsome sycamore. Reaching out from the central trunk, the limbs split into smaller and smaller branches until they’re tiny fingers grasping for the sky. Now stoop down and pick up a fallen leaf. The branching pattern is reflected in the leaf’s intricate veins, a miniature representation of the tree’s silhouette. By the side of the path, a fern is unravelling like a coiled spring chasing the sun. Look closely and you’ll see all these contain their own unique patterns repeating themselves over and over again.

Meet fractals.

These irregular, imperfect designs are rarely found in the man-made environment which is dominated by squares and rectangles, but they’re everywhere in nature. Think of snowflakes, clouds, snail shells, a sunflower: all these contain infinitely complex fractal patterns.

It seems our minds are primed to recognise and resonate with fractals. We ourselves contain these patterns – think of the blood vessels branching out from your lungs.

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Posted On: 08/02/2022

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