Connecting with nature can ease pandemic blues

Connecting with nature can ease pandemic blues
Courtesy: Reuters

Experts have urged stressed people to get outdoors and connect with nature. If you're feeling stressed with pandemic life at the moment, a breath of fresh air could make all the difference.

Research has long shown that connecting with nature can improve our mental health, and a new study has concluded that even during the current global health crisis the great outdoors is a powerful pick-me-up.

"Thinking about the natural world in an interconnected and harmonious way corresponds to improved psychological health, no matter where you are," said lead author Brian W. Haas, an associate professor in the Behavioural and Brain Sciences Program at the University of Georgia.

Scientists analysed surveys from the US and Japan to understand how global views on nature can impact psychological health.

Participants were quizzed on their stress levels, how the Covid-19 pandemic had affected their health and finances, and their relationship with the natural world.

Experts found that while people were generally feeling more stressed because of the pandemic, those in tune with nature had coped better.

"We found that the Americans who believed that humans are, and should be, the masters of the natural world did not tend to cope well during the pandemic," Haas explained. "Think about taking a step away from Zoom for a moment and taking a walk and listening to the birds chirp.

"We're showing very convincingly with empirical data that, during a very difficult time like we are in now, that it's important to do these things to maintain your psychological health."

Scientists hope this research will encourage people to re-examine their views about the environment and take more time to appreciate the great outdoors.

"I feel like this is a really great lesson, and a moment for us to really appreciate that things like our relationship with nature do matter and make an impact on more tangible things, like our mental health, which we often forget," said Fumiko Hoeft, a professor of psychological sciences at UConn and director of UConn's Brain Imaging Research Center in Japan.

Hoeft also spoke of the benefits of 'forest bathing', a Japanese tradition where people walk through a wooded area and feel "refreshed" after being surrounded by trees.

The study was published in the ‘Personality and Individual Differences’ journal.

(Cover Media/Reuters)

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