What are the implications of ecopsychology research?

Two research papers that have simple practice implications are highlighted below.

Barton and Pretty (2010), using a multi-study analysis, investigated what is the best dose of nature and green exercise for improving mental health. Their results found that acute short-term exposures to facilitated green exercise improved both self-esteem and mood, irrespective of duration, intensity, location, gender, age and health status. Somewhat surprisingly, they concluded that five minutes’ exposure duration showed greatest changes in both self-esteem and mood.

Practice implications: Instead of coachees eating their lunch in their office, sitting in front of a computer screen, looking at an excel sheet, they could be encouraged to walk to their local park, be mindful of the park environment and eat their sandwich whilst sitting on a park bench. (The caveat would be that the coachee does not feel threatened in the park environment.) Green Office areas also may provide an alternative in built-up urban neighbourhoods that lack parks or suitable open spaces and also during poor weather conditions.

Reference: Barton, J. & Pretty, J. (2010). ‘What is the best dose of nature and green exercise for improving mental health? A multi-study analysis’. Environ. Sci. Technol., 44, 3947–3955.

Marselle, Irvine and Warber (2014) undertook a large-scale study examining group walks in nature and multiple aspects of wellbeing. They found that group walks in nature were associated with significantly lower depression, perceived stress and negative affect, as well as enhanced positive affect and mental wellbeing, both before and after controlling for co-variates. There were no group differences on social support. In addition, nature-based group walks appeared to mitigate the effects of stressful life events on perceived stress and negative affect while synergising with physical activity to improve positive affect and mental wellbeing.

Practice implications: Coachees wishing to improve their wellbeing could be encouraged to go on walks with nature. If they wish to walk with others, then in the UK they could join their local accredited Walking for Health groups. For further details see: www.walkingforhealth.org.uk

Reference: Marselle, M.R., Irvine, K.N. & Warber, S.L. (2014). Examining group walks in nature and multiple aspects of wellbeing: A large-scale study’. Ecopsychology, 6(3), 134–147.