Macquarie University Living Lab Program

Rejuvenating Communities One Moment at a Time

It’s more than a learning and teaching campus.
It’s a place that actively supercharges student and staff wellbeing!

Located at Macquarie University campus, this Stress Regulator Trail has been designed to target mental restoration and repair. It takes students and staff through six rejuvenation stations aimed at increasing positive mood, emotional regulation, attention restoration and support greater resilience to anxiety and stress.

A body of research too large to ignore is confirming what we have all known for a long time;  nature has a profound effect on our resilience and wellbeing. However, the types of activities we do in nature matter more than the amount of time spent. The latest science shows that the more meaningful the engagement is the more profound the health benefits.

The campus Go Slow for a Mo’ Nature Wellness Trail is designed to help individuals spend more meaningful moments in nature to better refresh mood, energy and focus. Drawing on the latest scientific knowledge to create short slow moments for big health impacts!

“I personally came away with an increased appreciation of the incredible power that nature can have on my wellbeing - lowering my stress levels, increasing relaxation. It had a profound effect on me and I would encourage anyone to just try it.”
Macquarie University Logo (2).png
Eleni Gorgas
Medical Student Participant

How it works:

  • Breathe Easy: Abdominal breathing exercise to increase pleasantness, vigour, alertness, and reduces symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger and confusion.
  • Relax The Eyes: MRI and EEG scans show that peripheral vision stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system leading to feelings, mindfulness and calm awareness. Using peripheral vision in nature creates feelings of awe.
  • Listen Up!: Listening exercise breaks sensory habits to increase connection with nature and also includes a placemaking element.
  • Sensory Switch: This exercise uses sensory experiences to create moments for pausing, stopping and noticing nature in difference ways. 
  • The Tree and Me: This mimicry exercise is used to trigger mirror neurons to increase empathy and compassion, and creates a stronger connection between the person and place.

  • Beautiful Things: This exercise helps individuals to notice and enjoy beautiful things. It is also a driver of nature connection which is linked to overall increases in life satisfaction.

Early results:

Students showed a significant increase in pre-post trail completion for:

  1. Vitality scale (p =.034)
  2. PANAS – Positive subscale –positive affectivity (emotions and feeling p =.016) 
  3. Nature related affect scale (p=.008) 

This includes significant increases in specific states for ‘Relaxed’, ‘Awe’, ‘Alert’, and ‘Awake’. These states have a strong association with depression and anxiety.

The Connective and research team at Macquarie University continue to build on this work with staff and students. Our next research program is scheduled for second semester with up to 100 students expected to participate. 

Learn more:

Download article for more information: Go Slow Living Lab Program

Visit our website: 

Watch our short video below to hear what the students have to say about the trail.

Want to transform your green space into a rejuvenation place?

We can help you to supercharge the health benefits of any green space – whether it be a national park, local park, pocket park, backyard, learning space or workplace.

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