LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — April is stress awareness month, and through the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been plenty of stress for healthcare workers.
Now, research has shown that virtual reality can help calm frayed nerves.
Working in healthcare can be intense, demanding, and it never seems to end. To get out of that environment, there might be a better solution than just a quick breather.
Chris Miller is an ER nurse in Ohio, and he said the pandemic created extremely tough obstacles through every surge.
“It’s just really difficult because historically, you would come to work and you knew that you signed up for a stressful job, but you could kind of leave that at work,” he said. “And now with the pandemic, it’s everywhere.”
To combat the stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout, Ohio University researchers created a tranquil virtual reality experience that immerses employees in nature.
The three-minute, 360 degree experience takes them into a lush green forest.
“It’s a moment of respite in a very chaotic, overwhelming situation,” said Associate Professor in Primary Care at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine Dr. Elizabeth Beverly. “It gives you an opportunity to get away, to escape into nature, and we know the health benefits of being in nature.”
Dr. Beverly led the study.
“This is a brief, accessible intervention, it’s very low cost, it works for anyone who’s on the unit,” she said. “And we were able to reduce stress, we also found that this difference was a big difference.”
“You really get that opportunity to quiet your mind and get your thoughts to really focus on something, something beautiful,” Chris continued.
Researchers are examining potential long-lasting benefits to the virtual reality experience, and are introducing other scenes to help staff relax.