Special Issue "Topical Collection: Nature, Mindfulness and Social Isolation in Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Global Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Margaret Mary Hansen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Nursing and Health Professions, University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94901, USA
Interests: shinrin-yoku; ecopsychology; nature based therapy; nature and health; integrative healthcare (mind, body, spirit); mindfulness; informatics
Ms. Reo Jones
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
School of Nursing, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR 97201, USA
Interests: shinrin yoku; nature rx; nature-based healing; public health; community health; biodiversity; microbiome
Prof. Dr. Sara L. Warber
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Department of Family Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
Interests: nature-based interventions; forest bathing; complex interventions; holistic healthcare; biopsychosocial-spiritual wellbeing; stress; health behavior; qualitative research; mixed methods research; whole systems research

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The current global pandemic, COVID-19, continues to have profound effects on our daily lives. At the time of this writing, over 55 million people have been infected globally. The human race has been attempting to socially and physically isolate to reduce viral transmission and save lives. Large-scale human isolation, and the inevitable lack of human contact and touch, has profound psychological, physiological, and spiritual implications. To find solace and protection from the rapid transmission of the virus indoors with others, people are flocking to nature. Nature spaces, green and blue, are needed now more than ever to provide antidotes for human anxiety, fear of the unknown, loneliness, decreased immunity, and other health issues. Another option, uptake of mindfulness practices, is known for its multitude of benefits: increased immunity, connection with self, decreased anxiety and depression, and increased well-being.

During these uncertain and stress-filled times, we make an urgent call for contributions to this Special Issue in an effort to assist practitioners and researchers in learning ways to help people flourish while living with isolation during the pandemic. Articles of interest may:

  • Illustrate how nature-based and/or mindfulness practices alleviate or mitigate social isolation (e.g., social distancing, quarantine, self-isolation, and shelter-in-place) side effects;
  • Demonstrate a variety of research methods (e.g., meta-analyses, state-of-the-art reviews, randomized controlled trials, longitudinal studies, case reports or case series, qualitative and mixed methods studies);
  • Highlight innovative technologies (e.g., Internet-based videos, cell-phone applications, music, and artistic contributions);
  • Apply these approaches, methods, or technologies in important subpopulations, such as the elderly, homebound, deprived and vulnerable communities, adults, adolescents, or children.

Researchers and practitioners interested in these topics are invited to submit manuscripts to this Special Issue on providing nature and/or mindfulness solutions for the human isolation, loneliness, and lack of human contact or touch occurring in times of pandemic.

Dr. Margaret Mary Hansen
Ms. Reo Jones
Prof. Dr. Sara L. Warber
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Shinrin-yoku
  • Nature-based therapy
  • Ecotherapy
  • Ecopsychology
  • Nature and forest therapy training
  • Nature contact
  • Greenspace exposure
  • Nature/park/outdoor prescription
  • Human isolation
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Risk factors of human isolation
  • Immunity
  • Loneliness
  • Experiences and perceptions (patients, caregivers, and practitioners)
  • Epidemiology
  • Stress-related illnesses
  • Human touch
  • Therapeutic virtual sound and nature landscapes

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Article
Comparison of the Effectiveness of an Abbreviated Program versus a Standard Program in Mindfulness, Self-Compassion and Self-Perceived Empathy in Tutors and Resident Intern Specialists of Family and Community Medicine and Nursing in Spain
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(8), 4340; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18084340 - 20 Apr 2021
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Abstract
Health professionals are among the most vulnerable to work stress and emotional exhaustion problems. These health professionals include tutors and resident intern specialists, due to the growing demand for the former and the high work overload of the latter. Mindfulness training programs can [...] Read more.
Health professionals are among the most vulnerable to work stress and emotional exhaustion problems. These health professionals include tutors and resident intern specialists, due to the growing demand for the former and the high work overload of the latter. Mindfulness training programs can support these professionals during times of crisis, such as the current global pandemic caused by the coronavirus-19 disease. The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of an abbreviated Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) training program in relation to a standard training program on the levels of mindfulness, self-compassion, and self-perceived empathy in tutors and resident intern specialists of Family and Community Medicine and Nursing. A total of 112 professionals attached to six Spanish National Health System teaching units (TUs) participated in this randomized and controlled clinical trial. Experimental Group (GE) participants were included in the standard or abbreviated MBSR programs. The Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), the Self-Compassion Scale short form (SCS-SF), and the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSPE) were administered three times during the study: before, immediately after, and 3 months after the intervention. Adjusted covariance analysis (ANCOVA), using pretest scores as the covariate, showed a significant increase in mindfulness (F(2,91) = 3.271; p = 0.042; η2 = 0.067) and self-compassion (F(2,91) = 6.046; p = 0.003; η2 = 0.117) in the post-test visit, and in self-compassion (F(2,79) = 3.880; p = 0.025; η2 = 0.089) in the follow-up visit, attributable to the implementation of the standard training program. The standard MBSR and MSC training program improves levels of mindfulness and self-compassion, and promotes long-lasting effects in tutors and resident intern specialists. New studies are needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of abbreviated training programs. Full article
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Article
Using Mind–Body Modalities via Telemedicine during the COVID-19 Crisis: Cases in the Republic of Korea
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(12), 4477; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17124477 - 22 Jun 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1943
Abstract
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic affected the world, and its deleterious effects on human domestic life, society, economics, and especially on human mental health are expected to continue. Mental health experts highlighted health issues this pandemic may cause, such as depression, anxiety, [...] Read more.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic affected the world, and its deleterious effects on human domestic life, society, economics, and especially on human mental health are expected to continue. Mental health experts highlighted health issues this pandemic may cause, such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Mind–body intervention, such as mindfulness meditation, has accumulated sufficient empirical evidence supporting the efficacy in improving human mental health states and the use for this purpose has been increasing. Notably, some of these interventions have already been tried in the form of telemedicine or eHealth. Korea, located adjacent to China, was exposed to COVID-19 from a relatively early stage, and today it is evaluated to have been successful in controlling this disease. “The COVID-19 telemedicine center of Korean medicine” has treated more than 20% of the confirmed COVID-19 patients in Korea with telemedicine since 9 March 2020. The center used telemedicine and mind–body modalities (including mindfulness meditation) to improve the mental health of patients diagnosed with COVID-19. In this paper, the telemedicine manual is introduced to provide insights into the development of mental health interventions for COVID-19 and other large-scale disasters in the upcoming new-normal era. Full article
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Review

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Review
Greenspace Interventions, Stress and Cortisol: A Scoping Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(6), 2802; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18062802 - 10 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 978
Abstract
Background: Engaging with nature can profoundly impact psychological and physiological health of persons across the lifespan. Greenspace interventions (GSI) encompass a broad range of strategic, nature-based activities for overall health and wellbeing. Within the past 20 years there has been a growing interest [...] Read more.
Background: Engaging with nature can profoundly impact psychological and physiological health of persons across the lifespan. Greenspace interventions (GSI) encompass a broad range of strategic, nature-based activities for overall health and wellbeing. Within the past 20 years there has been a growing interest in the access to and management of greenspace to mediate the deleterious impact of acute and chronic stress, particularly, physiologic biomarkers of stress such as cortisol. Objective: This review aims to describe the impact of greenspace interventions on cortisol, to present the current state of the science on GSIs as they impact cortisol, and to uncover any limitations of current research strategies to best inform future research. Methods: A scoping methodology was conducted to systematically study this emerging field and inform future research by mapping the literature based on the GSI category, interventional design, cortisol metrics, and subsequent analysis of cortisol. Conclusion: Considerable heterogeneity in research design, aim(s), interventional strategy, and cortisol metrics were identified from a total of 18 studies on GSIs and cortisol outcomes. While studies demonstrated a potential for the positive association between GSIs and stress relief, more rigorous research is needed to represent GSIs as an intervention to mitigate risks of stress. Full article
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Review
Mindfulness and Shinrin-Yoku: Potential for Physiological and Psychological Interventions during Uncertain Times
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(24), 9340; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17249340 - 14 Dec 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2193
Abstract
Mindfulness and Shinrin-yoku (SY) translated as forest bathing, is potentially effective to alleviate mental health issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The purpose of this article is to provide a translational and pragmatic approach to understanding mindfulness in the context [...] Read more.
Mindfulness and Shinrin-yoku (SY) translated as forest bathing, is potentially effective to alleviate mental health issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The purpose of this article is to provide a translational and pragmatic approach to understanding mindfulness in the context of SY and psychological wellbeing through a rapid review of the literature. The background of mindfulness and SY practice are discussed and the emotional, neuroendocrine, and neurobiological responses are examined. Next, a rapid review of the literature examined six studies, published between 2010 and 2020 to determine what is known regarding the relationship between SY, mindfulness, and psychological wellbeing. The studies included 21–360 participants with a mean age of 20–55 years. The results demonstrated a significant positive correlation between nature, mindfulness, and measures of psychological wellbeing. During uncertain events, including COVID-19, weaving mindfulness with SY may be specifically important to at-risk groups, those experiencing depression, loneliness, and social isolation, and at-risk populations such as college students, veterans, and professionals with high levels of stress. The goal of this review is to provide a thorough background and support of this cost-effective modality to promote overall psychological wellbeing as a preventative measure to those at risk or experiencing psychological illnesses. Full article

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Finding Healing in Nearby Nature

Authors: Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller

Affiliation: Van Diest Medical Center, Webster City, IA, USA

 

TitleMindfulness and Shinrin-yoku: Potential for Physiological and Psychological Interventions During Uncertain Times

Authors: Margaret Hansen and Erica Timko-Olson

Affiliation: School of Nursing and Health Professions, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA; Center for Gerontological Nursing, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA

 

Title: Social Isolation of Older Adults: A qualitative study of the effects of group outdoor health walks on social interaction

Authors: Katherine N. Irvine and Sara L. Warber

Affiliation: James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, UK; Department of Family Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA


 

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