Feeling Connected to nature is good for your Health

Our latest study is published in the 2014 Journal of Health Psychology – Martyn and Brymer (2014). This study found a relationship between feeling connected to nature and low levels of anxiety. We used an online survey consisting of two well-validated questionnaires, a qualitative question and some demographic questions. The two standardised self-report scales were the Nature Relatedness Scale (NRS) and the State Trait Inventory for Cognitive and Somatic Anxiety (STICSA). The NRS measures an individual’s affective, cognitive, and physical relationship with the natural world. The scale consists of three subscales measuring personal connection to nature, external worldviews of nature, and physical familiarity with nature.
The State Trait Inventory for Cognitive and Somatic Anxiety (STICSA) measures overall anxiety as well as somatic and cognitive aspects of state and trait anxiety. The first part of the scale assesses how people feel at the time of taking the survey (state anxiety) even if it is not how people usually feel, and the second part of the scale predicts situations in which individuals will have elevated anxiety (trait anxiety). We also added a qualitative question “In your own words please tell us what being in nature means to you.”
The quantitative results indicated that connection to nature was significantly related to lower levels of overall, state cognitive and trait cognitive anxiety. Qualitative results revealed seven themes; relaxation, time out, enjoyment, connection, expanse, sensory engagement and a healthy perspective. Taken together these results suggest that opportunities which enhance experiences of being connected to nature may reduce unhelpful anxiety. In particular these results suggest that opportunities to develop physical familiarity with nature are most strongly related to low levels of general anxiety. In practice these results suggest that it is important to have experiences in nature that facilitate physical familiarity and feelings of being physically comfortable in nature. Get out and enjoy nature, in all its guises.

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