Urban Nature and Pandemic Experiences (03-22-21)

Olszewska-Guizzo and colleagues studied links between nature experiences and the psychological state of people who lived in Singapore during its 7 week COVID-19 lockdown (known as a stay-at-home order or SHO).  Data assessed were collected before the COVID-19 pandemic and immediately after the SHO ended.  The research team determined, by showing participants videos of urban public spaces (Busy Downtown, Residential Green, and Lush Garden) filmed before the pandemic that “Post SHO, brain activity and responsiveness to landscapes changed. . . .  high nature exposure [for example, going to parks] reported by Singaporeans during the SHO did not contribute to mitigating [reducing] the risk of depression.”  The authors point out that during the SHO more people visited green spaces than usual, so there was less access to seating areas where visitors could relax and also that wearing masks and crowding, for example, may have kept pandemic related issues top-of-mind.  In addition,“mask-wearing itself could have caused more sweating and/or breathing difficulties, especially in Singapore's tropical climate, which potentially degraded the overall nature experience.”  In conclusion, “The provision of fully-functioning green urban spaces even in the times of pandemic, i.e. allowing social isolation, rest and relaxation in nature, forgetting about the pandemic struggles, may be the key for improved well-being of urbanites post-COVID-19.”

Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo, Anna Fogel, Nicolas Escoffer, and Roger Ho.  “Effects of COVID-19-Related Stay-At-Home Order on Neuropsychophysiological Response to Urban Spaces:  Beneficial Role of Exposure to Nature?”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, 101590, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2021.101590