Environmental Psychologist Birgitta Gatersleben, from the University of Surrey, says being near a real tree helps people to cope better with stress or mental fatigue.
She has studied the benefits of natural environments on well-being and tested how exposure to plants and trees can hasten recovery from stress and mental tiredness.
In her most recent paper she says “Perhaps evergreen Christmas decorations also have a positive effect on our health and well-being without us being aware of it. Perhaps surrounding ourselves with such signs of life subconsciously improves our moods and reduces stress”.
She believes that the smell is the key as it evokes nature and its associations with health.
There is nothing new in this belief as people have decorated their homes with evergreens such as holly, ivy, and laurel for centuries. When we put up our tree, or hang mistletoe for kisses, we are drawing from folk traditions handed down from the early Druids, Romans and Christians?
The Christmas tree might be the best known form of greenery, but is a relatively recent addition to the decorative tradition, possibly introduced into Britain in the 1840s by Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert from German tradition.
In any event the ancients thought of evergreens as the symbol of life since it was always green, even in the depths of winter.
Research has also shown that working within sight of greenery, trees and parks, makes you feel better at work and nature walks in groups has been recognised as a good way to treat depression by the NHS
So it does seem that being close to nature is good for your well-being and especially your mental health. And going back to Gatersleben’s point about smells, aromatherapists believe pine essential oils have a number of health benefits