Binge-watching David Attenborough’s Planet Earth might not be the first thing that comes to mind after the end of a busy day; now you’ll have another reason to add it to your must-see list. Asides from the show being educational and full of cute slash scary animals, researchers have discovered that viewing it (or a similar nature programme) makes us significantly happier while also reducing our stress and anxiety.
Researchers from both BBC Worldwide and the University of California Berkeley came to this unexpected conclusion after studying 7,500 people from a range of nationalities – including the UK, US, India, Singapore, Australia and South Africa – as they watched a variety of programs, including Planet Earth II, dramas and the news. Their research included a literature review of over 150 scientific studies that have explored the link between a connection with nature and human happiness and wellbeing.
They found that most people enjoyed a significant boost in positive feelings, such as awe, joy, contentment and amusement while watching Planet Earth II. They also found people had a decrease in more negative emotions, such as anxiety, stress, fear and even tiredness.
To aid the study, and obtain real results, researchers used unique facial mapping technology to track people’s emotions in real time as they watched clips of the TV programmes.
And women’s emotions were more likely to change than men’s; although both genders experienced significant increases in awe, amazement, wonder, the increase for women was 35% greater than amongst men. And younger people felt better too; watching Planet Earth II had a more pronounced effect on younger people, who were feeling higher levels of negative emotions at the outset – those aged 16-24 experienced the largest reduction in negative feelings of nervousness, overburden and fatigue.
So, if you’re in need of a happiness boost, stick on a Planet Earth box set, or your favourite show after work today.