Moments, not minutes: The nature-wellbeing relationship
Keywords:nature connectedness, time in nature, well-being, simple activities, happiness, worthwhile life
A wealth of literature has evidenced the important role that the greater-than-human natural environment plays in our mental health and wellbeing (reviews by Bratman et al., 2019; Capaldi et al., 2014, 2015; Pritchard et al., 2019). Spending time in nature, engaging with nature directly and indirectly, and a strong sense of nature connectedness (a psychological/emotional connection with nature) have each been shown to positively impact wellbeing. Few studies, however, have examined the importance that various nature-related factors have on our wellbeing when examined in concert with each other, with none including factors of nature connection and engagement. In the current study, using a national United Kingdom sample of 2,096 adults, we provide new insights into this gap in the literature. Our primary focus was on examining, when considered simultaneously, the patterns and relative predictive importance to hedonic wellbeing (i.e., happiness), eudaimonic wellbeing (i.e., worthwhile life), illbeing (i.e., depression and anxiety), and general physical health of five nature-related factors: (1) nature connectedness, (2) time in nature, (3) engagement with nature through simple everyday activities, (4) indirect engagement with nature, and (5) knowledge and study of nature. A consistent pattern of results emerged across multiple analytical approaches (i.e., correlations, linear regression, dominance analyses, commonality analysis), wherein time in nature was not the main (or significant) predictive nature-related factor for wellbeing. Rather, nature connectedness and engaging with nature through simple activities (e.g., smelling flowers) consistently emerged as being the significant and prominent factors in predicting and explaining variance in mental health and wellbeing. Implications for practical application and policy/programme planning are discussed.
Copyright (c) 2021 Miles Richardson, Holli-Anne Passmore, Ryan Lumber, Rory Thomas, Alex Hunt
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