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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Stress recovery in forest or handicraft environments - An intervention study

Dolling, Ann; Nilsson, Hanna; Lundell, Ylva


In modern society stress is a major problem, causing lack of mental and social well-being as well as potential vulnerability to problems at work. Previous studies have found natural environments to be relaxing. In this intervention study, performed in Northern Sweden, the hypothesis was that an outdoor forest environment would be more relaxing than an indoor handicraft environment. Forty-six participants with high stress levels (PSQ >= 0.4) (33 women, 13 men, average age 48 years) were randomly assigned to visit either the forest environment (n = 27) or the handicraft environment (n = 19). The participants visited their assigned environment twice a week during three months, either in autumn or spring. During each visit they spent two hours performing, simple and undemanding activities. Psychological health outcomes were measured by the questionnaires CIS, PSQ, SCQ, SMBQ, SF-36 before and after the three months interventions. Sleeping patterns were monitored by an Actiwatch and sleep diary. The participants' mood before and after each visit were estimated by a questionnaire. The results show that the participants' health had improved after the interventions in both the forest and handicraft environments. The sleep latency increased slightly among participants in the handicraft environment. For participants in both environments the levels of fatigue, stress and burnout were all lower. They felt less limitation due to physical problems and did not feel so tired. Also their mental health had improved. From start to end of a visit to either environments the participants' mood was improved, and they felt more relaxed, alert, happy, harmonious, peaceful and clearheaded. Over time during the intervention, they also felt significantly more clearheaded. We conclude that the health of all participants improved, irrespective of the environment visited.


Human health; Nature assisted therapy; Handicraft; Restoration; Stress; Urban forestry

Published in

Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
2017, volume: 27, pages: 162-172

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Nilsson, Hanna
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Lundell, Ylva
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG3 Good health and wellbeing

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)