Evidence summary

A close and connected relationship with nature, over and above getting out into nature,is important 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 (eg McEwan et al, 2019), emotional engagement (eg Passmore & Holder, 2017), noticing nature’s beauty, which has been found to be key for wellbeing through nature connection (eg Capaldi et al, 2017; Richardson & McEwan, 2018; Zhang et al, 2014), engaging with the meaning of nature through arts (eg Bruni et al, 2017) and caring for nature which has been linked to mental wellbeing (eg O’Brien et al, 2010).

Audio nature meditation

Nature-based guided imagery using audio narration has been found to deliver wellbeing 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 wellbeing (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 canadienne, 60(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 planning, 158, 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 Planning, 194, 103687.

Nguyen, J., & Brymer, E. (2018). Nature-based guided imagery as an intervention for state anxiety. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 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 Organizations, 21(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-analysis. Journal 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.