People who watched nature videos on social media experienced boosts to their overall mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 lockdowns, according to new research.
Researchers used the first UK lockdown in March 2020 to investigate how people engaged with nature via social media and whether there were associations between this form of simulated nature engagement and wellbeing.
They analysed a total of 143,265 publicly available comments in response to videos on two Facebook pages – Chris Packham’s live-stream videos and clips from BBC Springwatch – posted from March to July 2020.
This video content was some of the earliest in the UK to proactively support public engagement with the natural world at a time where COVID-19 regulations dramatically limited access to outside spaces for the general population.
Through their analysis, researchers found watching nature videos had elicited positive emotions such as feeling calm, relaxed, joyful, moved, uplifted and inspired. People also reported that engaging virtually had helped them cope with, and process, the stress and mental fatigue they were experiencing as a result of the pandemic.
It had also helped to give them a sense of meaning, afforded viewers the opportunity to express negative emotions and, in turn, may have helped to combat loneliness and feelings of isolation.