What is it about a stroll in the woods or going for a walk along a country lane that seems to bring a sense of inner peace?
The same way that walking barefoot on the beach, watching the waves and collecting seashells brings so much joy into your heart.
Is it simply because you’ve “got back to nature”?
Is it because you are outside breathing fresh air for a change instead of being stuck in the stress box you call your office?
There is, in fact, a perfectly natural one-word explanation for why you feel so calm and content.
Fractals! They're all around you, wherever you look. They are even inside you.
What are fractals and how do they reduce stress?
The simplest way to describe a fractal is a pattern that repeats itself over a decreasing scale.
Take trees for example. The branches are copies of the trunk, only smaller. The smaller branches are copies of the larger branches they stemmed from. Twigs are copies of the smaller branches. Each part of the tree is a smaller copy of the whole.
If you were to look at a snowflake under a magnifying glass before it melts, you would see that it is made up of the same complex repeating pattern.
Since the beginning of humanity, we have been surrounded by fractals. They are Mother Nature's building blocks and our evolutionary comfort zone.
Here are some other examples of F.R.A.C.T.A.L.S found in the natural world:
F – Fiddlehead Ferns
R – Romanesco Broccoli (aka Brocciflower)
A – Aloe Vera plants
C – Crystals
T – Trees & Leaves
A – Angelica Flowers
L – Lightning
S – Seashells
How do you use fractals for stress relief?
The obvious answer would be, don’t spend so much time inside! Tear yourself away from the artificial environment you usually inhabit and get outside more. Even if you have limited time to be at one with nature, nothing is stopping you from getting out in the open air during your work break.
Stand and watch the clouds, or sit on a park bench and watch the trees swaying in the breeze for a few minutes. Do some deep breathing and fill your lungs with fresh air while you’re there. You’ll soon feel your stress melting away like that snowflake you put under the magnifying glass earlier.
But what about when you can't get out? It's probably not going to be possible for you to drop everything and walk out of the office every time you feel your stress levels rising. Try looking out of the window for a minute or so instead.
And there is another way too. According to research, looking at man-made fractals, such as fractal art, is equally as effective. You can just as quickly lower your stress levels by watching a fractal screensaver on your computer for a few seconds, as you can by watching the clouds roll by or the trees swaying.
Yes, it might seem incredible, but studies have shown the calming effects that fractals have on the mind really do take effect very quickly.
So if you've been trying to find out how to reduce your stress levels without resorting to pills or expensive therapy sessions, look around you. The solution is everywhere, hiding in plain sight.