Recent research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies has revealed that spending time outdoors and switching off devices is associated with higher levels of happiness during pandemic-related restrictions.
Led by academics from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in the UK, the Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences in Austria and Perdana University in Malaysia, the study analyzed happiness levels in a group of 286 adults three times a day, at random intervals, over a 21-day period. The goal was to see how happiness during a national lockdown was affected by being outdoors, the amount of daily screen time and feelings of loneliness. The study took place in April 2020.
The researchers found that levels of happiness were higher when participants were outdoors. More daily screen time and higher levels of loneliness were both associated with lower levels of happiness, however the impact of loneliness was weaker when participants were outdoors.
"Our results are important in this context because they show that being able to spend time outdoors under conditions of lockdown has a beneficial impact on psychological well-being," co-lead author Viren Swami, professor of social psychology at ARU. "Being outdoors provides opportunities to escape from the stresses of being confined at home, maintain social relationships with others and engage in physical activity—all of which can improve mental health.
"Our findings have practical health policy implications," continued Swami. "Given that further lockdown restrictions have now become necessary in the UK, public health messages that promote getting some fresh air instead of staying indoors and staring at our screens could really help to lift people's mood this winter."