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Page 98

by Megan Whitby, assistant editor

Even brief, virtual nature experiences might be beneficial

Finishing touch

WATCH OUT

Researchers have launched a study to explore how digital nature experiences can be good for us

I

t’s well-documented that being in nature has should have an innate biophilic preference for viewing a profound effect on wellbeing. Good news them as well as spending time in them,” he said. “Secondly, for destination and resort spas which have there are these inherent qualities in nature – things expansive grounds for guests to explore. that can capture our fascination and hold our attention Now, a new study by researchers in the – which can help those parts of our brains that might UK could help city be stressed and tired to recover.” spas and those with He suggested that there may be little outdoor space to tap into certain aspects of nature that are more Findings could help aspects of forest bathing too. rewarding, such as images and sounds city spas and facilities The research will investigate of water, but also alluded to the idea with little outdoor our response to digital and virtual that even a brief moment could have experiences of nature and is part of a an impact. “I’m really interested in space to tap into wider collaboration between the BBC fleeting experiences in nature, things forest bathing and the University of Exeter called like sunrises and sunsets, which come Soundscapes for Wellbeing. The to define a person’s encounter.” purpose of the study is to find out how best to bring virtual The study’s results could provide valuable insights experiences of nature to those who can’t get outside. and evidence for spa operators on how best to Led by psychologist and PhD researcher Alex Smalley, use digital nature applications to boost customer the study explores people’s responses to different wellbeing, or confirm that they’re already on the right digital nature environments created by composer path. For example, offering immersive VR relaxation Nainita Desai and sound recordist Chris Watson. It was treatments using rich nature visuals such as Sensync, originally designed with vulnerable people in long-term and incorporating recorded wildlife soundtracks in care or those restricted to clinical settings – most of wet and thermal experiences. Anyone who’s attended whom can’t get outdoors and are deprived of nature’s the Global Wellness Summit can also attest to the benefits. Lockdown has since increased the number of mesmerising nature-based films of Louis Schwartzberg. people shut off from nature and so the urge is growing In light of COVID-19, operators could make use of to investigate how these virtual experiences could be digital nature in touchless experiences. Plus, spas in used as an alternative means to support wellbeing. cities could use such offerings to enhance their attraction Speaking on BBC programme WinterWatch, Smalley as calming sanctuaries from busy urban life. ● called digital nature encounters “therapeutic tools in their own right” and gave two possible reasons to explain ■ The study takes 10 minutes to complete. Click to this. “Firstly, we evolved in natural environments, so we take part: www.spabusiness.com/virtualnature

98 spabusiness.com issue 1 2021

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Profile for Leisure Media

Spa Business issue 1 2021  

Global Spa and Wellness

Spa Business issue 1 2021  

Global Spa and Wellness

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