People who feel connected to nature have lower levels of anxiety, recent research finds.
Nature seems to provide people an escape from busy urban environments — a way to let their minds recover.
It may be that it is not even necessary to be in nature to get the benefit, as long as one feels connected to it.
For the research people were asked about what nature meant to them.
Here are six of the themes that emerged when people talked about what nature gave to them:
The authors explain:
“…nature induced relaxation and acted as a relief from stress.
Nature was also described as being responsible for feelings of peace and calm.
Some participants indicated that nature provided a sense of renewal, was re-grounding, and created feelings of fulfilment.”
2. Time out
The authors explain:
“…nature providing a sense of being away from the everyday, escape, and refuge.
Participants saw being in nature as being away from the urban environment and providing a sense of freedom.”
People described how being in nature gave them a sense of enjoyment, joy, happiness and contentment.
More than pure enjoyment, though, being in nature gave people the sense of…
“…being connected to something larger and revolved around feeling immersed, being part of something bigger, at one with, or connecting with what was important.
Being connected to nature was occasionally spoken about in terms of being at one with the world which also had secondary benefits of feeling peaceful.”
5. Sensory engagement
A spiritual aspect was also important, the authors write:
“…nature was stimulating to the senses and was associated with ideas of beauty
This often included a spiritual aspect or a sense of the flawlessness of nature.
Nature allowed them to breathe fresh air, experience natural elements, such as sunshine, and find space to be alone.”
6. Healthy perspective
People reported that…
“…nature was responsible for wellbeing and positive health.
Those participants who mentioned the health benefits of nature considered that nature was very important to their everyday lives, their mental health, overall wellbeing, and fitness.”
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The study was published in the Journal of Health Psychology (Martyn & Brymer, 2016).