How a regular dose of nature could boost mental health during the pandemic
Regular use of green space and views of greenery from the home could help mitigate some of the negative mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Tokyo, published in Ecological Applications.
For their research, the scientists asked 3,000 adults in Tokyo, Japan to fill out an online questionnaire. The aim was to find out whether there was any link between five aspects of mental health — depression, life satisfaction, subjective happiness, self-esteem and loneliness — and two measures of nature experience — frequency of green space use and green view through windows from home.
The study found that the more frequent use of green space and the existence of green window views from people’s homes were associated with increased levels of self-esteem, life satisfaction and subjective happiness, not to mention decreased levels of depression and loneliness.
“Our results suggest that nearby nature can serve as a buffer in decreasing the adverse impacts of a very stressful event on humans,” said lead author Masashi Soga, Ph.D., of The University of Tokyo. “Protecting natural environments in urban areas is important not only for the conservation of biodiversity, but also for the protection of human health.”
The findings are encouraging at a time when lockdown measures have been reintroduced in many countries worldwide, particularly in urban centers. RGA
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