Nature connectedness plays an important role in human well-being
The aim of this study was to examine the influence of the natural environment on human well-being. Participants were limited to individuals who choose to spend time in healthy natural environments and who consider nature connectedness important for their well-being. Nine such individuals were identified and agreed to be interviewed for this study. Four questions asked during the one-on-one semi-structured interviews shaped the conversation: What kind of exposure do you have on a regular basis with nature? What do you think well-being is? How did your connectedness with nature develop? To what extent does exposure to the natural environment influence your well-being?
This study was conducted in an urban area in South Africa by two researchers – one specializing in environmental education and the other in psychology. The nine interviewees (ranging in age from 30 to 60) represented different races and genders. Their professions ranged from administrative and technical areas to public service fields.
Major themes emerging from the data analysis included the multidimensionality of wellbeing, how to achieve well-being, the influence of the natural environment on well-being, and the kind of thoughts and feelings experienced when in a natural environment.
All participants indicated that they played in a healthy natural environment and developed their sense of well-being in nature at an early age. Most of the participants said that interaction with the natural environment played a significant role in their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. They also felt that engagement with nature promoted their cognitive functioning and social cohesion.
These findings support the idea that nature connectedness plays an important role in human well-being and that children’s engagement with the natural environment should be encouraged from an early age.