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Friday, 1 December, 2000, 00:17 GMT
Grass keeps you calm on the road
Picture this - and feel instantly calmer
Picture this - and feel instantly calmer
Snarled up in traffic and going nowhere? Don't get mad, get back to nature.

The scent of freshly-mown grass, and the feel of grass beneath your feet will, apparently, help you calm down and avoid road rage.

Like Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in the film Pretty Woman, stopping the car and walking barefoot in a field will help relax you.

Dr David Lewis, a consultant psychologist who coined the term 'road-rage', looked at what could keep drivers calm.

He gave 25 people a kit containing real Devonshire grass and a pump spray of grass scent.

They were then asked to park their cars, take their shoes and socks off and revel in the sensation of grass beneath their feet.

Relaxation

Dr Lewis said: "Researchers measured physical changes in the heart rate, blood pressure, and skin conductance of stressed out city drivers."

Participants were also asked to sit in silence. But bodily sensors found they were more relaxed with the smell and sensation of grass around them.

Dr Lewis, who specialises in the study of stress, said touch and smell were important and helped people to visualise themselves in a tranquil country scene.

The Toyota-backed research found tactile responses and smell were important sensations, and "significantly enhanced" the power of visualisation, meaning a far deeper level of relaxation could be achieved.

Dr Lewis said: "You would expect calmer drivers on country roads because the traffic is considerably less, but what this report shows is that it is the combination of silence in the car, the smell of your immediate environment and what you can feel that really promotes serenity."

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