Finding a friend in nature during the restrictions to control the coronavirus

During the restrictions to control the coronavirus pandemic people have visited and noticed nature more. People developed a greater awareness of nature and how it helps manage wellbeing. Turning to nature for wellbeing during the corona pandemic has been a reminder of a simple truth – human wellbeing depends upon nature. However, nature does not feature in our everyday lives, in models of workplace wellbeing and models of health. For example, the Five Ways to Wellbeing provide straightforward and popular guidance on the steps we can take to look after human wellbeing. The five ways wellbeing are based on an evidence report that, in 317 pages, includes no specific nature based solutions – despite a large amount of evidence that visits to and spending time in nature are associated with greater mental wellbeing. However, self-reported visits and time in nature do not tell the full story. When looking at a national survey of wellbeing and nature engagement during the coronavirus restrictions we found that increased ‘noticing nature’, rather than recent visits to nature, best explained feeling that life was worthwhile. The evidence is mounting that political and practical efforts should focus on creating a greater awareness of the vital role of nature for wellbeing and creating a new relationship with nature. A key challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic is to remember the value people found in nature during lockdown and to build a close connection with nature into our everyday understanding of wellbeing.




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