Let’s start by explaining a bit about fractals; what are they, where do they come from, and why should we care when it comes to wellbeing?
Fractals are the mathematics behind nature, they are infinitely complex shapes and patterns that repeat forever, and every part of the fractal, regardless of how zoomed in or out, will look very similar to the whole image.
The laws that rule the creation of fractals seem to be found throughout nature, we are all very much aware of how Mother Nature is simply the best designer ever. There are many examples of fractals in nature such as tree branches, snowflakes, plants, leaves, river systems, geographic terrain, animal respiratory systems, and human brains. Some of us may wonder why nature is such a good prescription, we don’t necessarily understand why when feeling down a little walk in nature can immediately help us feel better.
A lot of research has been done regarding this matter and on the effect of fractal patterns on human psychology using specific eye-tracking equipment to analyse how people would interpret these patterns. Research shows, using FMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) that people exposed to fractals images and patterns have their stress levels reduced by 60%. It seems that certain designs, landscapes and shapes incorporating fractals can produce a relaxation effect because of a psychological resonance within the eye.
Apparently, the human brain enjoys looking at fractals, the fluency puts us in a comfort zone by the way the eye moves and which regions of the brain get activated. This is one of the reasons why mandalas for example have been long used in meditation to help concentration. Living in a big and noisy city can be hard at times as there are a lot of distractions that almost neutralise the good effect.
Do we use fractals to be happier then?
Humans are visual creatures so the answer is yes, take a walk in nature and stare at some green sceneries, try to do it every day even during your lunch break go and sit on a bench in a park if you can. It will activate your autonomic system and after some time you will feel much calmer