About the 72 Hour Cabin case study and the results
In September 2017, Sweden teamed up with leading researchers in the field of stress, to study the health effects of the lifestyle within Swedish nature.
The case study was developed in collaboration with two leading stress researchers, Walter Osika and Cecilia Stenfors, also at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm; one of the world’s foremost medical universities.
For three days, five people with some of the world’s most stressful jobs – among them a French Taxi driver, a German Police Officer and a British Broadcaster – got to swap their urban lives for an off-the-grid experience on Henriksholm Island in Western Sweden. They lived in custom-made glass cabins and got involved in common Swedish outdoor activities, such as fishing, swimming and cooking of the grid.
After 72 hours, they all showed a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure. Additionally, there was a drop in heart rate, and an increase in well-being and even creativity. Walter Osika, Researcher in Stress and also Associate Professor at Karolinska Institutet:
This is how the results were measured
A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods were used in the case study in order to get a comprehensive picture of the participant’s well-being. Their values were measured when they arrived at the location of the case study and followed up after 72 hours.
The participant’s blood pressure and heart rate were measured with a sphygmomanometer after five minutes of rest in a sitting position. They also got to do a self-assessment test where the status of their current well-being and connection to nature was examined. A remote associates test was carried out to study their problem-solving ability and creativity (creativity is always tricky to measure, but this is one of the “standard” ways of doing it).
During the 72 hours, the participants also filled out a semi-structured diary every evening, describing their emotions, thoughts and relationships to the nature surrounding them. All in all, this gave an overview of the effects of 72 hours in Swedish nature.
As this was not a scientific study per se, no control group was studied. Results should therefore be seen more as an illustration of earlier research.
Wristband used during The 72 Hour Cabin
Wristband used during The 72 Hour Cabin
Photo: Jonas Ingman
These were the results
The results underpin the positive effects of a ‘close-to-nature’ lifestyle that is so liked by Swedes. And as our lives are getting busier, the need for relaxation and destressing moments are more important than ever - all over the world.
- The participant’s stress levels dropped with the results showing a significant decrease of as much as 70 percent in reported stress levels.
- The participant’s blood pressure and heart rate decreased. The results after 72 hours showed a statistically notable decrease in systolic blood pressure from 128 mmHg to 117 mmHg and a non-significant trend for a decrease in heart rate, dropping from 70 bmp to 60 bmp on follow up.
- The participant’s anxiety decreased significantly. There was a substantial increase in well-being, measured on a 1-4 point scale, from an average of 3.2 to 3.8.
- The participants reported an increased connectedness to nature; measured on a 1-7 point scale, from an average of 2.6 to 5.6, which is considerable.
- The participants also showed a sizable increase in creativity (that is, the ability to solve a classical association/creativity test).
All in all, the results showed a strong indication of the positive effects of a ‘close-to-nature’ lifestyle that is so prevalent in Sweden. With this case study, Sweden now wants to share learnings around the Swedish way of living close to nature. Also, that natural experiences don’t have to be difficult for us to embrace.
In Sweden, it’s all about finding greatness in the little moments in nature, and to make nature a natural part of everyday life. Hopefully, this case study can inspire further studies about the importance of the relationship between human and nature. Because we believe nature can help us discover our human nature.
The 72 Hour Cabin, West Sweden
The 72 Hour Cabin in Dalsland, West Sweden.
Photo: Jonas Ingman/Westsweden.com
Measurements and results in detail:
- Decrease in reported stress levels: mean=5,75 SD=0,9 at baseline vs. mean=1,5 SD=0,6 at follow up, p-value = 0,008).
- Decrease in systolic blood pressure: mean 128 mmHg, SD 16, at baseline vs. mean 117 mmHg SD 17 at follow up, p-value = 0,009).
- Decrease in diastolic blood pressure: mean=81 mmHg, SD=11 at baseline, mean=79 mmHg, SD=11 at follow up, p-value = 0,46.
- Decrease in heart rate: mean=70 bmp, SD=7 at baseline, mean=60 bmp, SD=6 at follow up, p-value = 0,10, non-significant).
- Decrease in anxiety (STAI, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory): a significant decrease in anxiety was reported (p-value = 0,0018) measured on a 1-4 point scale, from an average of 3.2 to 3.8 (inverted results).
- Increase in connectedness to nature: using a 1-7 point scale, where the average level at baseline was 2.6 and increased to 5.6 at follow up (p-value = 0,01)
- Increased creativity: measured in a remote associations test (p-value = 0,022).