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Doctoral thesis, 2012

Supportive nature - and stress

Adevi, Anna


Many benefits are claimed for the interplay between humans and nature, such as nature’s potentially positive effect on wellbeing and health. The main aim with the present work was to increase the understanding of how nature nvironments can support and contribute to health improvement from stress related experiences. Different landscape types’ effect on stress was studied in Sweden. Single case-studies focused on factors considered being essential in the recovery process for people diagnosed with exhaustion disorder within a stress rehabilitation-program through garden therapy in Alnarp, Sweden. A simplified conclusion of the thesis would be that the childhood landscape seems to play a significant role affecting the choice of the adult’s recreational setting - and recreational activity when stress is included. People feel more at home in the type of landscape they grew up in and more often chose to settle down in this type of landscape; even if they have moved from their childhood region. People also prefer qualities connected to their childhood landscape, but seem to attach more easily to qualities suggested having innate significance. The stress-recovery process within the garden therapy seems to be supported, hastened and deepened because of a multisensory change in awareness when contact with nature is combined with therapeutic interventions. Different psycho-physiological processes are discussed as well as the importance of self-chosen places in the garden based on present mood and the significance of the interaction between symbolic and concrete activities. The garden, the caregivers, and the group of participants together make up an arena which combines structure with freedom of action, in which the participants get the chance to regulate their needs and desires. Two hypotheses are presented, which might contribute to filling some current gaps in knowledge regarding the potential benefits of human interactions with nature.


environmental psychology; supportive nature environments; stress; exhaustion disorder; garden therapy

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2012, number: 2012:11
ISBN: 978-91-576-7695-5
Publisher: Dept. of Work Science, Business Economics and Environmental Psychology

    SLU Authors

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Landscape Architecture

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