Covid-19: change in our relationship with nature due to the pandemic

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To cope with the pandemic, people tend to turn more towards nature, especially women, reveals a recent American study. In fact, this habit would be even more important during this period to relieve your stress through various types of activities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly changed our habits in many ways. In particular, it was more difficult to take advantage of the large green spaces available during confinement, when time outdoors had to be limited.

Have these changes had an impact on the interactions between humans and nature? Yes, but for the better, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Vermont in the United States and published in the scientific journal PLOS One. This suggests that nature has become a true safe haven in recent months, especially for women, and that the number of new "followers" has increased considerably.

The survey was conducted online with 3,200 people in the last two weeks. It turns out that most of the people in the study reported significant increases in time spent outdoors during this time, especially women.

The outdoor activities that registered the greatest increases were: observation of the surrounding flora and fauna (up to 64%), gardening (57%), photography or other artistic activities in nature (54%), relaxation only outdoors ( 58%) and just go for a walk (70%).

A way to take care of your physical and mental health

Importantly, the results showed a change in the relationship with nature when respondents reported on the reasons why they enjoy green spaces today. During the pandemic, people mainly liked values that were generally less common: the effects of nature on their well-being and mental health (59%), practicing physical activity (29%), appreciating their beauty. (29%). "This data is like an open treasure chest at the time of the pandemic - a story of how people thought about their relationships with the rest of the world during a time of great upheaval," says Professor Rachelle Gould of the University of Vermont. , first author of the study.

But not everyone appreciated nature in the same way, with differences linked to factors such as gender, income, and employment, and whether people lived in urban or rural areas. Therefore, women were more active outdoors than men. In the six most common activities mentioned in the study, for example, they were 1.7 times more likely to have done gardening and 2.9 times more likely to go for regular walks. According to the researchers, this difference can be explained by the fact that women had a greater need for stress relief during the pandemic and turned to nature more than men for it.

"Nature is not a luxury product"

"More research is needed, but our preliminary analysis suggests that, during a pandemic, women are more likely than men to place greater emphasis on values such as mental well-being, beauty, exercise, familiarity with the landscape, and fun." Professor Rachelle Gould adds. People who lost their jobs during the pandemic were also more likely to report an increase in activities like gardening, walking and observing wildlife. "The pandemic has overturned the idea that nature and its benefits, stress reduction and social bonding, become luxury products," adds the scientific team.

Although it is necessary to deepen these results, the latter hopes that they will allow us to learn more about the populations that use nature more or less during periods of pandemic and containment and that their data will be used by political decision-makers to "focus on eliminating the barriers of access to nature in order to increase equity "in this area. "This study demonstrates the central role that nature plays in our well-being and the importance of accessing it during difficult and uncertain times like this pandemic. We hope that these results will help inform future decisions in terms of land management," they conclude the researchers.

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