02/11/2010 06:26 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Can A Beautiful View Help You Feel More Relaxed?

Whether it's a two-week break in the Seychelles or a quick stroll in the park at lunchtime, few people would argue that being surrounded by nature does the mind a power of good.

Natural scenes are good for your mood Scenes of nature can boost your mood. Photo: MorgueFile, kconors

And now, scientists at the University of Essex - who have already examined how being in a natural green space can affect your mental wellbeing - are looking into the subject even further. This time, they're investigating how taking a break in natural surroundings may reduce the effects of stress.

Most of us realise it's important to take a break at work, but apparently there's little scientific evidence to support the idea that popping outdoors for a breather can boost your wellbeing and alter the body's stress responses. So for the next three years, the Essex researchers will be examining just that.

Elsewhere scientists writing in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin claim people feel more sociable and caring when they're around nature. But it doesn't mean you have to hike through the woods every day to get in a good mood, they claim. Even looking at a picture of a natural scene can make you feel happier and more friendly.

With experts recently suggesting exercise is a great way to relieve depression, it sounds like the perfect prescription for work worries is to take a half-hour cycle through the nearest park during your lunch hour. Or at least change your screensaver to a stunning sunset or woodland scene.

What's your favourite way of winding down after a hard day at the office?

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