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Watching David Attenborough Documentaries Can Reduce Stress, Study Shows

By Laura Rogan October 16, 2020

I must be the happiest person alive.

If anyone can soothe the pain after a long, long day of having an existential crisis (or less dramatically, just working from home), it’s Sir David Attenborough. And it turns out science agrees.

Known for his iconic, calming and friendly approach to narration, the Broadcaster has the ability to educate even the most restless of us – and now, the University of Exeter has found that it’s actually beneficial for our mental health, too. What a win-win, eh?

Credit: Netflix

Rounding up 96 participants to study how nature content affects us, the researchers induced feelings of boredom upon their subjects – before showing them coral reef scenes from Blue Planet II in three different ways: via a VR headset using 360-degree video, via a computer, and via a VR headset using computer-generated graphics. Unsurprisingly (to us wildlife fans, at least), subjects experienced “reduced boredom and negative affect and increased positive affect and nature connectedness” as a result, with all viewing methods having a positive impact – reducing boredom and minimising negative emotions, with VR, in particular, inciting happiness in participants.

Credit: Netflix

Nicky Yeo, Lead Researcher on the study said of the results: “With people around the world facing limited access to outdoor environments because of COVID-19 quarantines, this study suggests that nature programmes might offer an accessible way for populations to benefit from a ‘dose’ of digital nature.”

The study reported: “There is growing evidence that direct contact with, and psychological connectedness to, the natural world can support a variety of health and wellbeing outcomes,

“There is evidence that psychological connectedness to the natural world, over and above direct contact, is associated with positive subjective wellbeing; higher levels of nature connectedness positively correlates with happiness, positive affect, vitality and life satisfaction.”

So, whether it’s David Attenborough that floats your (hopefully, eco-friendly) boat, or just a weekly dose of The Secret Life Of The Zoo, one thing we can now use as an excuse for a frequent binge-watch is that it’s scientifically supported as “self-care”.

David Attenborough recently released his brand new documentary with Netflix, A Life On Our Planet, which looks back on his career and how the Earth has changed in that time. And for those who’ve already watched it four times over, Disney’s newest Nature offerings have officially landed on Disney+ – including Elephant, narrated by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Dolphin Reef, narrated by Natalie Portman.

In other David Attenborough-related news, people are changing their lifestyles after watching his latest Netflix documentary.

[Featured image: BBC/Unsplash]