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Calming pictures

Looking at photographs of nature or relaxing imagery for a few minutes can have a calming effect on the brain.

A view of hills and trees, receding into the distance

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What is it?

Taking a few minutes to focus on a calming picture can lead to us feeling much more relaxed within ourselves. You could use a picture of:

  • Nature - a forest, the coast, the ocean, snow landscapes
  • A place that you have been before that you found calming
  • A sunset, or clouds

How does it help?

  • Research has shown that simply looking at photos of nature or pleasant and relaxing images for a few minutes can help to provide you with an escape in times of moderate stress.
  • Looking at calming photos can also be seen as a form of mindfulness meditation which helps us to relax and quiet the areas of the brain that are more closely linked to stress and anxiety.
  • There are certain images that are thought to have more of a calming effect on our parasympathetic nervous system than others- these include ‘fractals’ which is a term used to describe geometric shapes that have never-ending patterns. The symmetry of these patterns can help us feel calm especially when we may be experiencing disorder within our immediate environment. Fractals are common in nature and can be seen in snowflakes, leaves, clouds, snail shells etc.

How do I do it?

There are lots of different ways you can look for calming images. You can use the internet and a search engine to look for images which are calming for you. Eg maybe searching for your favourite animal and landscape that you like the look of.

  • You may want to set up a board on a website like Pinterest where you can save images you like to go back and refer to another day.
  • If you'd rather you could look in a magazine or a picture book - maybe have a trip to your local library and see what they have on the shelves.
  • Often our phones have a lot of pictures on so maybe going through your gallery or memories. Maybe you could star or favourite those that you find most calming.