The beach and a walk in the park are great ways to recover from life’s stress. The physical measures taken to contain COVID-19 include closing playgrounds, parks, and beaches. This has added to the mental challenges. How can we benefit from nature when we choose to stay at home and flatten out the curve?
To discourage infection and encourage distancing, public playgrounds are closed. Peter Lead is the author.
In recent decades, the evidence that nature supports human well-being is growing. Our research on the relationship between personality and the wellbeing of urban residents revealed that there are many benefits to heart, which we can enjoy even during lockdown. Our findings highlight some ways in which we can enhance our well-being through engaging with nature at home.
Read more: Biodiversity and our brains: how ecology and mental health go together in our cities
- A room with a view
To better understand the relationship between urban nature and participants, we reviewed the evidence and collected survey results based on self-reported indicators of well-being and biodiversity. We then organized focus groups in Sydney, Melbourne, Australia, and Auckland, Wellington, New Zealand.
There is plenty of evidence that shows a view of a water body or vegetation through a window that can give you a mini-break. It has been demonstrated that a picture of nature from a window can help hospital patients recover after surgery. The idea of a green roof is better for cognitive restoration than the view of concrete.
In our research, we found that urban residents reported a greater sense of well-being if they could see or hear nature from their homes. Participants rated views of green spaces and blue spaces as important. A participant said.
I would live in a place that was quite dreary if the balcony looked out at [nature].
Participants to our focus group also stressed the importance of seeing natural changes, such as the change in weather or seasons. Even if you don’t have much vegetation or water in your view, the sky will allow you to engage with nature’s dynamic.
Viewing the dynamism of nature through a window can enhance our wellbeing. Lucy Taylor, Author provided
Read more: Coronavirus: tiny moments of pleasure really can help us through this stressful time
- Gardening – indoors and out
You may want to start gardening if you have a balcony or yard. Gardening has many benefits, including a reduction in anxiety, stress and depression. Gardening is a great physical activity that can improve fitness and help with weight loss.
Gardening can provide habitats for wildlife and introduce you to new plants. We benefit from urban biodiversity.
In our study, we found strong connections between gardening and self reported wellbeing. You can still reap the benefits of gardening, even if you don’t own a yard. One participant explained:
I am happy to have a small garden of vegetables and potted flowers. It’s wonderful to see the growth in the city.
We can benefit from gardening in the yard, balcony or indoors. Peter Lead, Author provided
Read more: Running out of things to do in isolation? Get back in the garden with these ideas from 4 experts
- Green exercise
Exercise is important for your physical health and mental wellbeing. Exercise that is done in nature can improve mood and self-esteem.
The study showed a strong correlation between the amount of exercise that urban residents did and their self-reported health. One participant explained how important they find green exercise to be:
Walking my dog on the beach or up the hills is a great way to relieve stress and keep me healthy. It’s also free.
Another participant described exercise in a park.
My breathing rate has decreased. I feel different and love the feeling of the moist air that comes from the trees.
Residents of many cities are required to follow a variety of local and national restrictions on how and when they exercise outside the home. It is important not only to adhere to physical distance guidelines but also to exercise, rather than being both isolated and sedentary.
Read more: Green for wellbeing – science tells us how to design urban spaces that heal us
Urban nature now and for the future
We need to protect nature, because it can help us now when we could all use some assistance. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the postponement of climate change talks, but the fact remains that the climate change is not stagnant, even when you consider the effects of the lockdown on emissions.
There are ways to lower our emissions, create cities with low carbon, and make cities cooler. The sooner we act, and the better the outcomes will be.
Planting trees is a great way to secure your yard, and it will benefit you in the future.
Read more: Increasing tree cover may be like a ‘superfood’ for community mental health
Taking time to notice nature – via a glance outside, tending plants in pots or gardens , or via green exercise – will improve your wellbeing. Appreciating nature and having access to it has never been so important.