Healing power of nature
These notes are based on a guest lecture for the Health Psychology unit of study at the University of Canberra.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Activities
- 3 History
- 4 Theory
- 5 Research
- 6 Summary
- 7 Slides
- 8 See also
- 9 Readings
- 10 References
This lecture provides an introduction to the "healing power of nature" from a psychological point of view. It emphasises psychoevolutionary theory and practical applications.
This section involves some experiential activities to heighten personal awareness about our engagements with nature.
Sensory awareness inventory
Write down as many examples as you can of how you receive pleasure, comfort or enjoyment through each of your five senses:
- Circle all the sources of pleasure that involve nature
- Design a "perfect day" which involves receiving at least one favourite source of pleasure through each of your senses
- Consider: Are there more than five senses?
- More info
- Sensory awareness inventory (wilderdom.com)
Favourite place in nature
- Favourite place in nature (wilderdom.com)
This section looks at the role of nature in health and well-being through human history.
- 68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, says UN (United Nations)
- Nature deficit disorder (Wikipedia) (Louv, 2008)
This section explores the main psychologies theories used to understand the healing potential of nature.
This area represents intersections between:
- Evolutionary psychology (Wikipedia)
- Biophilia hypothesis (Wikipedia) (Wilson, 1984)
- Edward O. Wilson's Biophilia Hypothesis (wilderdom.com)
Attention restoration theory
- Attention restoration theory (Wikipedia)
- Attention restoration theory (Motivation and Emotion Book Chapter, Wikiversity)
- Attention restoration theory (Psychology of natural scenes, Wikiversity)
- Kaplan (1995)
Stress reduction theory
- Stress reduction theory (Wikipedia)
- Stress reduction theory (Psychology of natural scenes, Wikiversity)
- Ulrich et al. (1991)
This section highlights some key and illustrative research findings about the healing potential of exposure to nature.
- Ulrich (1984): Natural view through a hospital window promoted recovery
- Public health
- Field studies
- Lab studies
- MMORPG exergames
- Nature therapy / ecotherapy
- Adventure therapy
- Animal therapy (e.g., companion animals, equine therapy, mini-zoo keepers)
- Conservation therapy (e.g., mini zoo-keepers)
- Green prescriptions (GRx)
- Horticultural therapy
- Nature meditation
- Healing power of nature, 2019 (Google Slides)
Bowler, D. E., Buyung-Ali, L. M., Knight, T. M., & Pullin, A. S. (2010). A systematic review of evidence for the added benefits to health of exposure to natural environments. BMC Public Health, 10, 456. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-10-456
Frumkin, H. (2001). Beyond toxicity: Human health and the natural environment. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 20, 234-240. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0749-3797(00)00317-2
Gullone, E. (2000). The biophilia hypothesis and life in the 21st century: Increasing mental health or increasing pathology? Journal of Happiness Studies, 1(3), 293-322.
Louv, R. (2008). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin books.
Maas, J., Verheij, R. A., Groenewegen, P. P., De Vries, S., & Spreeuwenberg, P. (2006). space, urbanity, and health: how strong is the relation? Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 60(7), 587-592.
Ulrich, R. (1984). View through a window may influence recovery. Science, 224(4647), 224-225.
Ulrich, R. S., Simons, R. F., Losito, B. D., Fiorito, E., Miles, M. A., & Zelson, M. (1991). Stress recovery during exposure to natural and urban environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 11(3), 201-230.
Wilson, E. O. (1984). Biophilia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.