Motivation and emotion/Book/2021/Nature and psychological distress

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Note: This is an incomplete, abandoned chapter which has been relisted for further development. The new author is free to use, change, or remove any existing content.
Nature and psychological distress:
How can nature help people deal with psychological distress?
Parodyfilm.svg[Replace this text with the URL Go to a 3 min. audiovisual overview of this chapter.]

Overview[edit | edit source]

Figure 1 depicts a distant view of a natural landscape of lush, green tropical forests in the mountainous wilderness which is surrounded by turquoise ocean waters
Figure 1. The natural environment can help ease emotional suffering

Important points about this section:

  1. How can nature help people deal with psychological distress?
  2. How can specific emotion theories and research help?
  3. Consider providing an example or case study.
  4. Consider providing some focus questions.

Focus questions:

  • What is nature?
  • What is psychological distress?
  • How can nature help people deal with psychological distress?

What is nature?[edit | edit source]

Content goes here, written in paragraphs typically consisting of three to five sentences. Avoid one sentence paragraphs and overly long paragraphs.

Types of nature[edit | edit source]

  • green
  • blue
  • urban
  • natural
  • semi-natural
  • wild

Experience of nature[edit | edit source]

  • objective vs subjective (Hartig, Mitchell, de Vries and Frumkin, 2014)

What is psychological distress[edit | edit source]

  • emotional state of heightened tension and suffering
  • prolonged exposure to and elevated levels of stress
  • hormones such as cortisol over long periods leads to psychological distress and burn out
  • a lack in capacity to meet demands (Payne, Loi and Thorsteinsson 2020)
  • physiological stress is intertwined with psychological distress
  • an absence of feeling internal peace

Research on psychological health of university students (Payne, Loi and Thorsteinsson 2020) has shown that this can lead to problems such as;

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • anger
  • mental fatigue
  • attention deficits
  • decreased life satisfaction
  • poor coping strategies
  • poor sleep
  • impaired cognition and memory
  • pessimism
  • emotional dysregulation
  • disconnection from self and world
  • suicidal thoughts
  • psychosomatic symptoms
  • interpersonal issues

If a section has a lot of content, then consider structuring it into two to five sub-headings such as is shown here.

Figure 2. Nature can help decrease psychological distress

Important points about using figures:

  1. Figures can be used to illustrate concepts, add interest, and provide examples.
  2. Figures should be captioned (using APA style) in order to explain its relevance to the text.
  3. Possible images for use as figures can be found at Wikimedia Commons.
  4. Images can also be uploaded if they have appropriate licenses for re-use or if you created the image.
  5. Each figure should be referred to at least once in the main text (e.g., see Figure 1).

Tables[edit | edit source]

Important points about using tables:

  1. Tables can be an effective way to organise content.
  2. Tables should be captioned (using APA style) in order to explain its relevance to the text.
  3. Each table should be referred to at least once in the main text (e.g., see Table 1 and Table 2).

Here are two example tables which could be adapted:

Table 1.

Example of a Table with an APA Style Caption

Col. 1 Col. 2 Col. 3
C1R1 C2R1 C3R1
C1R2 C2R2 C3R2
C1R3 C2R3 C3R3

Table 2.

Another Example of a Table with an APA Style Caption

Col. 1 Col. 2 Col. 3
C1R1 C2R1 C3R1
C1R2 C2R2 C3R2
C1R3 C2R3 C3R3
Figure 3. Restorative environments can facilitate recovery from stress and attention deficits

How nature can help[edit | edit source]

Theories & research[edit | edit source]

Stress recovery theory[edit | edit source]

psycho evolutionary theory for physiological homeostasis (Ulrich, 1984)

Attention restoration theory[edit | edit source]

mental and attention fatigue from long term stress (Kaplan & Kaplan, 1989)

Biophilia hypothesis[edit | edit source]

innate drive or 'love' for all things living as we have evolved from nature (Kellert & Wilson, 1993)

Biological perspective[edit | edit source]

Cognitive perspective[edit | edit source]

Psychological needs[edit | edit source]

Social identity approach[edit | edit source]

Mindfulness based stress reduction[edit | edit source]

Important points about using feature boxes:

  1. Feature boxes can be used to highlight content.
  2. Possible uses for feature boxes include:
    1. Focus questions
    2. Case studies or examples
    3. Take-home messages
  3. There are many different ways of creating feature boxes (e.g., see Pretty boxes)
Feature box example
  1. Shaded background
  2. Coloured border

Recovery[edit | edit source]

Stress coping[edit | edit source]

Emotional regulation[edit | edit source]

Distress tolerance[edit | edit source]

Restorative environments[edit | edit source]

Important points about using quizzes:

  1. Quiz questions can be used to help make a chapter more interactive.
  2. To learn about different types of quiz questions, see Help:Quiz.
  3. Rather than presenting one longer quiz at the end, consider adding, say, one review quiz question per major section.
  4. Try to assess conceptual knowledge, rather than trivia.

Here are some simple example quiz questions:

Choose the correct answers and click "Submit":

1 Approximately how many neurons are in the human brain?

1,000,000 (1 million)
10,000,000 (10 million)
100,000,000 (100 million)
1,000,000,000 (1 billion)
10,000,000,000 (10 billion)

2 A typical neuron fires ________ per second.

1 to 4
5 to 49
50 to 99
100 to 199
200 to 499


Everyday applications[edit | edit source]

Where can nature be incorporated in everyday life?

How can we expose more people to the benefits of nature?

At home

  • exercise outdoors,
  • gardening,
  • indoor plants,
  • pets,
  • viewing scenery, view nature from window (Ulrich 1984)
  • living near by natural spaces

Public health (Hartig, Mitchell, de Vries and Frumkin, 2014)

  • viewing nature scenes when receiving treatment (eg. radiography, dentist, etc), (Ulrich 1984)
  • hospital views (Ulrich 1984)
  • hospital gardens,
  • take therapy outside the clinic
  • animal assisted therapy
  • nature based therapy

Urban landscapes, Building design, Community gardens (Hartig, Mitchell, de Vries and Frumkin, 2014)

  • urban parks for exercising
  • neighborhood streets to be more open natural spaces to reduce traffic noise and vegetation for privacy
  • trees along roads

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Important points about this section:

  1. This is arguably the most important section.
  2. What is the answer to the question in the sub-title (based on psychological theory and research)?
  3. What are the practical, take-home messages?

See also[edit | edit source]

Important points about this section:

  1. Provide up to approximately half-a-dozen internal (wiki) links to relevant:
    1. Wikiversity pages especially motivation and emotion book chapters
    2. Wikipedia articles
  2. Present in alphabetical order.
  3. Include the source in parentheses.

For example:


Attention restoration theory (Book chapter, 2016)

Green exercise and emotion (Book chapter, 2013)

Nature and emotion (Book chapter, 2013)

Nature and psychological well-being (Book chapter, 2011)

Stress recovery theory: Nature-based therapy (Book chapter, 2016)

References[edit | edit source]

Hartig, T., Mitchell, R., de Vries, S., & Frumkin, H. (2014). Nature and health. Annual review of public health, (35), 207–228. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-032013-182443

Kaplan, R., & Kaplan, S. (1989). The experience of nature. A psychological perspective. NY: Cambridge University Press.

Kellert, S. R., & Wilson, E. O. (Eds.). (1993). The biophilia hypothesis. Island Press.

Payne, E. A., Loi, N. M., & Thorsteinsson, E. B. (2020). The Restorative Effect of the Natural Environment on University Students' Psychological Health. Journal of environmental and public health, 4210285. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/4210285

Ulrich, R. S. (1984). View through a window may influence recovery from surgery. Science. 224(4647):420-421. doi:10.1126/science.6143402

Important points about this section:

  1. Present cited references in APA style.
  2. Important elements include:
    1. Wrap the set of references in the hanging indent template. Using "Edit source": {{Hanging indent|1= the list of references}}
    2. Author surname, followed by a comma, then author initials separated by full stops and spaces
    3. Year of publication in parentheses
    4. Title of work in lower case except first letter and proper names, ending in a full-stop.
    5. Journal title in italics, volume number in italics, issue number in parentheses, first and last page numbers separated by a dash, followed by a full-stop.
    6. dois
  3. Common mistakes include:
    1. citing sources that weren't consulted
    2. incorrect capitalisation
    3. incorrect italicisation
    4. providing the retrieved from date for online material (this is no longer part of APA style).

For example:

Blair, R. J. R. (2004). The roles of orbital frontal cortex in the modulation of antisocial behavior. Brain and Cognition, 55(1), 198-208. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0278-2626(03)00276-8

Buckholtz, J. W., & Meyer-Lindenberg, A. (2008). MAOA and the neurogenetic architecture of human aggression. Trends in Neurosciences, 31(3), 120-129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tins.2007.12.006

Eckardt, M., File, S., Gessa, G., Grant, K., Guerri, C., Hoffman, P., & Tabakoff, B. (1998). Effects of moderate alcohol consumption on the central nervous system. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 22(5), 998-1040. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-0277.1998.tb03695.x

External links[edit | edit source]

Important points about this section:

  • Judiciously selected links to important external resources about this topic
  • Present in alphabetical order
  • Include the source in parentheses after the link

Being in nature for 20 min reduces stress hormones (PsychCentral, 2019)

For your mental health, get back in touch with nature (Sydney Morning Herald, 2014)

Spend time in nature to reduce stress and anxiety (American Heart Association, 2018)

Why it's important for children to play outdoors (Victorian Department of Education, 2017)

Related videos:[edit | edit source]

A guerrilla gardener in South Central Los Angeles - Ron Finley, 2013 (TedxTalk)

How ecotherapy helps mental health (Mind.org.uk, 2013)

Nature is everywhere, we just need to learn to see it - Emma Marris, 2016 (TedxTalk)

Prescribing nature for health Dr. Nooshin Razan (TedxTalk, 2016)

For example: