by Tom Barron, Psychologist, Pocketcoach
Throughout history, humans have been undeniably entwined with nature. Our relationship with nature is crucial, as without nature, there is no ‘us’. We depend on it for everything, from the air we breathe to the water we drink.
Despite society gradually losing the sense of this special connection, it is still important for many people. Consider how you felt the last time you went for a walk to the beach, through the forest or out in the fields; it is something we are naturally inclined to do and enjoy. In fact, many studies have shown various health and mental health benefits, for children and adults, from spending time in nature.
It is easy for us to acknowledge the enjoyment and benefit we feel from simply being outside in nature. But psychologists have explored the unique relationship between nature and health. This has resulted in the development of the distinct psychological concept of “nature connectedness”. This captures the complexity and subjectivity of the relationship.
Nature connectedness relates to an individual’s subjective sense of their relationship with the natural world. This goes beyond simply having contact with nature. It can be considered an aspect of a person’s personality. It encompasses individual differences in what people feel, think and experience in their sense of connection with the natural environment. The term was developed due to individuals commonly reporting that they feel emotionally close to, and an integral part of, nature.
We have already written about some of the mental health benefits of being outdoors in an earlier blog. Connecting with nature has further benefits.
One of the strongest psychological benefits related to nature connectedness is increased levels of happiness. One meta-analysis found that “the relationship appears to be positive and significant. In general, individuals who are more connected to nature tend to be happier”.
Research has also shown that being exposed to natural environments can:
And to increase:
This means nature connectedness has the potential to result in similar, beneficial health outcomes.
Make it Wild was set up primarily out of a love and respect for nature. Helen and Christopher were so concerned at seeing nature squeezed out of its rightful space, that they decided to buy land, to manage solely for the benefit of nature.
To help you become more connected with nature, they have just launched Natural Mindfulness Walks. These are a perfect way to enhance your own nature connectedness. You can read more about them here.
We believe in the benefits of nature and we also understand that the world is currently in a strange place. The lack of social contact, lack of freedom and the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in have resulted in people experiencing an increase in anxiety and stress.
Make it Wild also have a free course of conservation workshops, ‘Wellbeing in the Woods’ which is designed to support those with anxiety or mild depression. Participants will enjoy time in the woods in a supportive group, helped by an experienced facilitator.
Pocketcoach is a Vienna-based App which aims to help people live a happier life by giving them the tools they need to combat anxiety and stress. If you would like to access some anxiety relief, such as a course on mindfulness, please check out the Pocketcoach app here.