Today is Earth Day. Feeling connected to nature is associated with resilience and happiness, as well as decreased anxiety.
Researchers evaluated how human’s relationship with the natural world influences psychological well-being during the natural disaster pandemic. They explored two worldviews: harmony-with-nature (connectedness) and mastery-over-nature (the right to control and exploit nature). Four hundred and nine American participants completed surveys on the personal impact experienced during the pandemic, worldviews on nature, and mental health. Those participants with a harmony-with-nature worldview reported better mental health than those with a mastery-over-nature worldview. This finding supports the biophilia hypothesis, that humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and animals.
Richard Louv coined the phrase nature deficit disorder to describe “the human costs of alienation from nature” in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods. Research indicates that nature deficit disorder contributes to inactivity, obesity, inattention, decreased use of the senses, and increased mental and physical health problems. Disconnection from nature impairs ecological literacy and weakens our stewardship of nature.
Takeaway: With the increased vulnerability to natural disasters, we may want to spend more time in nature to improve our mental health and to find ways to promote the care and protection of the natural world. Happy Earth Day!
Brian Haas, Fumiko Hoeft, and Kazufumi Omura, The Role of Culture on the Link between Worldviews on Nature and Psychological Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic, 170 Personality and Individual Differences 110336, Feb. 15, 2021, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7547372/.
Richard Louv, What is Nature Deficit Disorder?, Oct. 15, 2019, http://richardlouv.com/blog/what-is-nature-deficit-disorder/.