Connectedness to Nature and Body Image

Main objectives of the present research study were to explore potential relationships between connectedness to nature, self-esteem and body appreciation in order to explore potential benefits of applying nature-based approaches to fostering positive body image.

Why is Body Image important?

In Western societies specifically, body image issues have reached epidemic magnitudes, representing a growing issue inhumanitarian as well as financial terms. Preoccupation with negatively perceived aspects of one’s appearance diminishes cognitive resources, limits human potential, and causes significant distress and impairment in personal, social, and occupational functioning, and other important areas of life. Associated with major health risks including eating disorders (Rosen, 2013), smoking, steroid use, dieting,excessive exercise, potentially harmful cosmetic surgery procedures (Sarwer, Wadden & Whitaker, 2002), and even body dysmorphic disorder, depression and suicide (Eaton et al., 2005), negative body image translates into significant health care costs. In contrast, a positive body image characterized y an ability to feel and act appreciative of one’s physical self, entails far-reaching benefits that extend into many areas of a person’s life to support individual health, wellbeing, and flourishing.

Your Relationship with Nature & Your Relationship with Your Body: Intrinsically linked

There are many different influences and combinations of factors that determine the kind of relationship that we lead with our bodies, but I believe that the root issue – as well as the solution to prevailing body image issues – lies in the relationship that we experience with our ecosystem, with ‘Mother Nature’. Disconnection from nature contributes, if not causes, a variety of psychological disturbances including body image issues that intrapsychic or intrafamilial dynamics cannot solemnly account for. Increasing rates of psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress paralleled by environmental issues related to current rates of population growth, consumption, and the use of non-renewable resources, are often cited to underscore the interdependency between human and planetary health, suggesting that our levels of connectedness to nature are both problem and solution to the major social and environmental challenges of the present century. How we think, feel, and interact with the natural environment says a lot about the way we think, feel, and treat ourselves – and vice-versa.

Want to know more?

View the Full Research Study here (link).

View the Published Article here (link).

Von Nordheim, L., Swami, V. & Barron, D. (2016). Self-esteem mediates the relationship between connectedness to nature and body appreciation in women, but not men. Body image, 16, 41-44.