ROCHESTER — Picture this: A deep lake shrouded with the mist of a summer morning. Or a mountain forest in early fall with leaves falling gently around you. With a good imagination you can visualize those scenes and maybe even smell them.

A new

study

shows that the aromas of nature may be good for you because they help you feel relaxed, joyful, and healthy.

Research led by the University of Kent’s Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) found that smells are an important part of the well-being benefits you can get from interacting with nature, because they often connect us to memories and specific ecological characteristics and processes, such as blooms in spring or rotting leaves in fall.

"Nature is a multi-sensory experience and our research demonstrates the potential significance of smell for well-being," says Dr Jessica Fisher, a Postdoctoral Research Associate at DICE. "The study provides findings that can inform the work of practitioners, public health specialists, policy-makers and landscape planners looking to improve well-being outcomes through nature. Small interventions could lead to public health benefits."

In addition to finding that the smells of nature are beneficial, the researchers also found that the absence of certain smells are good for you too. They say that people may get a healthy boost from not smelling garbage, pollution and other unpleasant odors associated with urban areas. The cleansing away of those city smells may increase relaxation and reduce stress.

The study is published in Ambio, a Journal of Environment and Society.

For more stories about the potential health benefits of nature, check out the links below.

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