Bringing the outdoors in
Updated: Mar 27, 2020
Bringing the outdoors in can boost your mood
We’ve all been stuck inside before, by illness, injury, even weather. It’s novel at first but after a while, the walls can feel like they’re closing in, as we long to breath fresh air and to feel sunlight on our faces. Time can warp and the natural patterns of day and night become abstract, even irrelevant.
The spreading coronavirus has launched us into unmapped territory in many ways. If we exhibit any symptoms we must harbor in place for weeks and, even if we do not, health officials in many places are recommending that we work from home, limit travel and personal interactions, potentially for months.
Self-isolation and social-distancing transform our homes, once havens, into closed spaces where anxiety and stress can run rampant. Some older adults, in particular, have expressed fear about the extended alone-time, suggesting that life without their friends and family nearby is not worth living.
The physical and mental benefits of the outdoors have been well established in recent years. Studies have shown better moods and increased creativity in those who spend time in nature. (See “Going outside can help us feel together--even when we’re two meters apart”). But what does that mean if you can’t, or choose not to, go outside? Research by our SOAR team principal investigator, Netta Weinstein, and others has shown that interacting with nature—even in the form of photographs—can increase vitality, or mental and physical energy, in viewers.
So, with that in mind, you don’t have to feel left out, by being in. Spend a few minutes or hours (because they are binge-worthy) with some of the best nature on-line, where life goes on as always. These eagles, elephants, polar bears, puffins, and more, make excellent co-workers:
About the author:
Dr. Netta Weinstein is an Associate Professor of Social Psychology at Cardiff University in the UK; Heather Hansen is a journalist and researcher at Cardiff University; and Dr. Thuy-vy Nguyen is an Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at Durham University in the UK. Together, they are leading SOAR: Solitude, Alone and Resilient, an ERC-funded project to predict well-being during time spent alone.