Access to nature is key to surviving lockdown, a new study finds.
People who are able to get out into nature are less likely to suffer depression and anxiety during lockdown.
Even a natural view from inside can help to ameliorate the effects of COVID-19 related policies.
The conclusions come from a study that examined the mental health of people in various European countries as governments imposed lockdowns of different scales.
Spain, for example, imposed one of the most severe lockdowns: for a period, people were forbidden to go outside, even to walk.
The UK and Norway, though, did allow people access to nature.
Dr Sarai Pouso, the study’s first author, explained the results:
“The main conclusion is that people who were under the strictest lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 (those who were only allowed to go out for work or essentials purchases, as was the case of Italy and Spain) were more likely to show symptoms compatible with depression and anxiety, compared to countries with more relaxed lockdowns where people could still visit natural places such as parks.”
Nine countries were included in the analysis, comprising the responses of over 5,000 people.
The researchers also tested whether having a garden or view of nature from the home was important.
They found that green spaces visible from the home were much more important for the mental health of people under the most severe lockdown.
Dr María C. Uyarra, study co-author, said:
“The results indicate that having access from the home to outdoor spaces (e.g., garden, balcony) and having window views to open spaces or natural element (e.g., coast, park, forest) decreased the probability of showing symptoms of depression.
Furthermore, people with access to outdoor spaces and with nature views, managed to maintain a more positive mood during lockdown.”
Pandemic or not, green and blue spaces have a remarkable healing effect on people’s mental health.
→ Read on: 10 Remarkable Ways Nature Can Heal Your Mind
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Science of The Total Environment (Pouso et al., 2020).