AspenPointe Blog

Using Calm Images to Reduce Stress: A COVID-19 Stress Management Tool

Apr 29, 2020, 15:11 PM by Clara Cirks

Using Calm Images to Reduce Stress: A COVID-19 Stress Management Tool

You may be used to routine methods that help you reduce stress like yoga class, going to the gym, a walk in the park, or social time with friends. Although during these unprecedented times, some of those activities might not be doable. Did you know that an alternative way to reduce stress is looking at or surrounding yourself with calm images?

Looking at calm, relaxing photos can be a mindfulness technique or even a tool to reduce moderate stress. One study concluded that exposure to images and videos of nature induced a more physiologically relaxed state. Research reported improvements in participants’ stress and fatigue recovery from viewing natural, calm settings. Heart rate decreased, and the visual and attention areas of the participants’ brains showed increased reactions (in comparison to images of urban environments). These findings suggest that the act of viewing nature images may cause positive changes in our parasympathetic nervous system, which also regulates important body functions such as breathing and digestion.

Viewing calm or nature images is a great stress management technique to take advantage of during these times. It can also be a way to visualize calm for those who may find it difficult to produce their own mental pictures or practice meditation. These types of nature images could include a forest landscape, urban green spaces like gardens and flowers, or mixes of mountains, fields, and water.

Set aside a few minutes in your day to take a break and look at photos that instill calmness. “Since many of our typical routines have been disrupted right now – along with the fact that stress levels are rising – it may be especially helpful to create new routines centered around relaxation,” encourages Dr. Lindsay Gries, our Director of Psychological Services. “Just a few minutes at a time, two to three times a day, can yield significant benefits.”

Incorporating calm images into your everyday surroundings can benefit as daily reminders to soothe your mind. Try replacing your cell phone or computer wallpaper, hanging a nature photo on the fridge, or placing calming images or décor in your home office or bedroom.

Take a look at some of the calm images below and assess your stress levels before and after viewing.

Calm MountainsCalm Flowers
Calm Tree

For more information on how you can cope with stress surrounding COVID-19 and take care of your emotional health, please visit the Center for Disease Control Website.

For more COVID-19 resources for you or your family, please visit our resource webpage.