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Stressing on the importance of spending time in nature, a new study has revealed that exposure to natural spaces during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 turned out to be beneficial for mental health.
The research was conducted between March and May 2020 and the study results have been published in the journal 'Environment International', reported Hindustan Times.
The study involved participants from Portugal and Spain. It was carried out by the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) and the Instituto de Saude Publica of the University of Porto (ISPUP).
Purpose Of The Study
Dr Ana Isabel Ribeiro, a researcher at the ISPUP, and Margarita Triguero-Mas from the ICTA-UAB, in an ANI report, said, "We decided to study whether natural, public and private spaces had a beneficial effect on the mental health of Portuguese and Spanish citizens, helping them to better cope with the negative effects of lockdown".
They also wanted to check to what extent lack of contact with natural spaces affected people during confinement. They undertook a rigorous study of previously available literature to further their research. Delving a little further they also decided to find out whether Spanish or Portuguese citizens were more affected since Spain has stricter restrictions.
For the purpose of the research, the authors created an online questionnaire, aimed at all citizens aged 18 years or older, residing in Spain or Portugal.
The survey covered the following aspects—the frequency and type of exposure people had to natural spaces (public and private), before and during the first confinement; mental health questions to assess levels of stress, mental disorders, and somatization symptoms, and sociodemographic issues.
Among the total 3,157 respondents-1,638 were Portuguese and 1,519 Spanish.
The inferences that were drawn from the survey results highlighted that, in both countries, during the lockdown, there was a reduction in the use of public natural spaces, but an increase in the use of private natural spaces, such as community gardens, urban gardens, and plants.
In both countries, people who continued dedicating or increasing the time to care for their plants and community green spaces had lower stress levels and lower rates of somatization.
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