While COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the health of millions of people, a few positive outcomes emerged from the pandemic. For example, according to a study published in Haliyon, in India, adult participants reported a greater connection with nature during the pandemic. That connection resulted in a moderate improvement in well-being.
Using a shortened Nature Relatedness Scale, the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (SWEMWBS), and sociodemographic information, the researchers surveyed 386 individuals aged 18 to 65 about their feelings of connection to nature and mental well-being.
The researchers found either small or insignificant differences among sociodemographic characteristics. They did find a significant 0-order correlation between well-being and nature relatedness (r=0.219, P <.001). Another test showed higher nature-relatedness scores predicted greater well-being. Specifically, R2=0.048 showed that nature-relatedness explained 4.8% of the variance of mental well-being.
Women in the study had higher nature-relatedness than men, but overall, neither age nor gender influenced the association between nature-relatedness and well-being.
Because the researchers recruited mainly through social media, the study was limited to people who used mobile devices. The study was also limited to people in India who understood English. Both factors make the data not generalizable to the country’s entire population.
“Restoring person-nature connection may act as a preparedness strategy against any such pandemic in the future and promote societal well-being and economic growth without hurting nature’s flourishment,” the researchers concluded.
“However, in order to perform the strategy, a higher level of attention and responsibility has to be given to creating immediate green and blue spaces and in the prompt expansion of urban nature. As an outcome, these shall help individuals to escape home confinement, maintain social contact, provide a sense of connection to the outer world and enjoy significant well-being effects during similar lockdown times.”
Selvaraj P, Krishnamoorthy A, Vivekanandhan S, Manoharan H. COVID-19: A crisis or fortune? Examining the relationship between nature-relatedness and mental wellbeing during the pandemic. Heliyon. 2022;8(4):e09327. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2022.e09327
This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor