You probably know that it's important to take regular breaks from your work, but what you do during them is equally important. A recent study suggests spending less than a minute looking at images of nature can help when you're mentally fatigued.
Photo by Fabrizio Sciami
The study, led by Dr. Kate Lee of the University of Melbourne and published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, asked participants to perform boring, "attention-sapping" tasks. Then they were given 40-second breaks, with half told to look at a bare concrete roof, and the other half told to look at images of nature. The participants who looked at images of nature then made far fewer errors and showed more concentration when they went back to their task. Lee explains the results to the University of Melbourne Newsroom:
This study showed us that looking at an image of nature for less than a minute was all it took to help people perform better on our task... It's really important to have micro-breaks. It's something that a lot of us do naturally when we're stressed or mentally fatigued. There's a reason you look out the window and seek nature, it can help you concentrate on your work and to maintain performance across the workday.
You may not have an office window to stare out of, but any kind of images showing nature and green vegetation will probably help. Take a quick break to grab a cup of coffee, sure, but also try to take a few seconds to enjoy the trees and grass.
40-second green roof views sustain attention: The role of micro-breaks in attention restoration [the Journal of Environmental Psychology via The Melbourne Newsroom]