Visiting Urban Green Space and Orientation to Nature Is Associated with Better Wellbeing during COVID-19
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely challenged mental health and wellbeing. However, research has consistently reinforced the value of spending time in green space for better health and wellbeing outcomes. Factors such as an individual’s nature orientation, used to describe one’s affinity to nature, may influence an individual’s green space visitation behaviour, and thus influence the wellbeing benefits gained. An online survey in Brisbane and Sydney, Australia (n = 2084), deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic (April 2021), explores if nature experiences and nature orientation are positively associated with personal wellbeing and if increased amounts of nature experiences are associated with improvement in wellbeing in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that both yard and public green space visitation, as well as nature orientation scores, were correlated with high personal wellbeing scores, and individuals who spent more time in green space compared to the previous year also experienced a positive change in their health and wellbeing. Consistently, people with stronger nature orientations are also more likely to experience positive change. We also found that age was positively correlated to a perceived improvement in wellbeing over the year, and income was negatively correlated with a decreased change in wellbeing over the year, supporting other COVID-19 research that has shown that the effects of COVID-19 lifestyle changes were structurally unequal, with financially more established individuals experiencing better wellbeing. Such results highlight that spending time in nature and having high nature orientation are important for gaining those important health and wellbeing benefits and may provide a buffer for wellbeing during stressful periods of life that go beyond sociodemographic factors.
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National Health and Medical Research Council