Virtual forest experience found to help restore positive emotions and reduce anxiety

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : October 27, 2022, 12:37 Updated : October 27, 2022, 13:36

[Courtesy of National Institute of Forest Science]

SEOUL -- Experiencing a virtual forest was found to create positive emotions such as happiness and alleviate negative emotions such as depression and fatigue. Such green experiences can help treat people exhausted by lonely urban life without having them visit actual forests.
After analyzing 21 studies conducted at home and abroad, the state-run National Institute of Forest Science (NiFoS) concluded that experiencing forests in realistic digital content such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and holograms can bring psychological changes. Digital treatment was more effective in reducing negative emotions than increasing positive feelings. Those who were exposed to digital forest content for more than 10 minutes showed more consistent psychological effects.
Users exploring digital content that made them feel as if they were inside the forest showed effects in the cognitive aspect while content designed to look at the landscape from an open-view environment restored emotions.
"The result of this study proves that the convergence of digital technology and forests is effective in the restoration of mentality," NiFoS researcher Kim Gun-woo said in a statement on October 27. The institute will develop various forest-related digital content. 

An earlier NiFoS study showed that walking in a forest is one of the most effective ways in handling depression and anxiety. Just walking or sitting in the forest to look at the scenery was found to relieve inflammatory reactions in the body and reduce stress.
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