Evidence Summary

A close and connected relationship with nature is important, over and above getting out into nature, for wellbeing (Martin et al., 2020). A review of 50 research studies has shown the link between connection with nature and two types of wellbeing – feeling good and functioning well (Pritchard et al., 2019). The resources listed are evidence based approaches to improving nature connectedness and mental wellbeing.

Noticing the ‘Good things in Nature’ – Actively noticing the good things in nature (Richardson & Sheffield, 2017) benefits wellbeing (Passmore & Holder, 2017) and mental health to clinical levels of significance (McEwan et al., 2019) – particularly for those people who tend to be more distant from nature .

Explore your relationship with nature – The wellbeing benefits of nature connectedness are becoming established (Martin et al., 2020; Pritchard et al., 2019; McEwan et al., 2019). Five broad types of activity lead to nature connectedness (Lumber et al., 2017) which is increasingly seen as a basic human psychological need (Baxter & Pelletier, 2019; Cleary et al., 2017). These pathways include sensory contact with nature (e.g. McEwan et al., 2019), emotional engagement (e.g. Passmore & Holder, 2017), noticing nature’s beauty which has been found to be key for wellbeing through nature connection (e.g. Capaldi et al., 2017; Richardson & McEwan, 2018; Zhang et al., 2014), engaging with the meaning of nature through arts (e.g. Bruni et al., 2017) and caring for nature which has been linked to mental well-being (e.g. O’Brien et al., 2010).

Audio nature meditation – Nature based guided Imagery using audio narration has been found to deliver well-being benefits, for example (Nguyen & Brymer, 2018). The mp3 in the resources was adapted from a guided meditation and other nature focused meditations in order to focus explicitly on the five pathways to nature connection identified by Lumber et al., (2017).

Virtual Nature – Viewing photographs and videos of nature is associated with enhanced wellbeing (Capaldi et al., 2015), bringing relaxed body responses (Jo, et al., 2019) and has been linked to short-term recovery from stress or fatigue, faster physical recovery from illness and long-term overall improvement on people’s health and well-being (Verlarde et al., 2007) – but real nature provides a greater boost.


Baxter, D. E., & Pelletier, L. G. (2019). Is nature relatedness a basic human psychological need? A critical examination of the extant literature. Canadian Psychology/psychologie canadienne60(1), 21.

Bruni, C. M., Winter, P. L., Schultz, P. W., Omoto, A. M., & Tabanico, J. J. (2017). Getting to know nature: evaluating the effects of the Get to Know Program on children’s connectedness with nature. Environmental Education Research, 23(1), 43-62.

Capaldi, C. A., Passmore, H.-A., Ishi, R., Chistopolskaya, K. A., Vowinckel, J., Nikolaev, E. L., & Semikin, G. I. (2017). Engaging with nature beauty may be related to well-being because it connects people to nature: Evidence from three cultures. Ecopsychology, 9, 199-211.

Capaldi, C. A., Passmore, H. A., Nisbet, E. K., Zelenski, J. M., & Dopko, R. L. (2015). Flourishing in nature: A review of the benefits of connecting with nature and its application as a wellbeing intervention. International Journal of Wellbeing, 5(4).

Cleary, A., Fielding, K. S., Bell, S. L., Murray, Z., & Roiko, A. (2017). Exploring potential mechanisms involved in the relationship between eudaimonic wellbeing and nature connection. Landscape and urban planning158, 119-128.

Jo, H., Song, C., & Miyazaki, Y. (2019). Physiological Benefits of Viewing Nature: A Systematic Review of Indoor Experiments. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(23), 4739.

Lumber R, Richardson M, Sheffield D (2017) Beyond knowing nature: Contact, emotion, compassion, meaning, and beauty are pathways to nature connection. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0177186.

Martin, L., White, M. P., Hunt, A., Richardson, M., Pahl, S., & Burt, J. (2020). Nature contact, nature connectedness and associations with health, wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviours. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 101389.

McEwan, K., Ferguson, F. J., Richardson, M., & Cameron, R. (2020). The good things in urban nature: A thematic framework for optimising urban planning for nature connectedness. Landscape and Urban Planning194, 103687.

Nguyen, J., & Brymer, E. (2018). Nature-based guided imagery as an intervention for state anxiety. Frontiers in psychology9, 1858.

O’Brien, L., Townsend, M., & Ebden, M. (2010). ‘Doing something positive’: Volunteers’ experiences of the well-being benefits derived from practical conservation activities in nature. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations21(4), 525-545.

Passmore, H. A., & Holder, M. D. (2017). Noticing nature: Individual and social benefits of a two-week intervention. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 12(6), 537-546.

Pritchard, A., Richardson, M., Sheffield, D., & McEwan, K. (2019). The Relationship Between Nature Connectedness and Eudaimonic Well-Being: A Meta-analysisJournal of Happiness Studies, 1-23.

Richardson, M., & McEwan, K. (2018). 30 days wild and the relationships between engagement with nature’s beauty, nature connectedness and well-being. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 1500.

Richardson, M., & Sheffield, D. (2017). Three good things in nature: Noticing nearby nature brings sustained increases in connection with nature/Tres cosas buenas de la naturaleza: Prestar atención a la naturaleza cercana produce incrementos prolongados en conexión con la naturaleza. Psyecology, 8(1), 1-32.

Velarde, M. D., Fry, G., & Tveit, M. (2007). Health effects of viewing landscapes–Landscape types in environmental psychology. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 6(4), 199-212.

Zhang, J.W., Howell, R.T., Iyer, R., (2014). Engagement with Natural Beauty Moderates the Positive Relation between Connectedness with Nature and Psychological Well-Being, Journal of Environmental Psychology.