The COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges and upheaval worldwide. As lockdowns became the norm, people turned to nature for solace and relief from pandemic-related stress. For women, outdoor spaces provide an escape from their homes and a much-needed break. However, while nature has mental health benefits, it’s essential to recognize that it may not be universally positive for everyone.
Seeking Refuge in the Great Outdoors
During the pandemic, women sought solace in nature’s serenity and beauty. Walking in parks and hiking in scenic trails provided emotional release and stress reduction. Research confirms that time spent in nature alleviates anxiety, improves mood, and enhances overall well-being. The sight of greenery and the soothing sounds of birdsong offered a temporary respite from pandemic-related stressors.
The Gendered Burden of Care
Nature provided an escape, but it’s essential to acknowledge the gendered burden women faced during the pandemic. Women took on extra caregiving responsibilities and household chores with closed schools and daycares. Balancing work and life became overwhelming, and seeking solace in nature added to their already heavy to-do lists.
The Myth of the Perfect Outdoor Experience
Idealized images of women doing yoga on mountaintops or capturing perfect moments in nature flooded social media during the pandemic. These representations set unrealistic expectations for outdoor experiences. Women felt pressured to meet these ideals, adding to their mental burden. Comparisons and feelings of inadequacy hindered the healing potential of nature.
Unaddressed Mental Health Needs
While nature can be beneficial, it’s not a substitute for professional mental health support. Many women relied on nature as a coping mechanism, neglecting their emotional well-being. The pandemic worsened existing mental health issues or caused new ones. Depending solely on nature without proper therapeutic interventions could hinder the effective management of women’s mental health.