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Academics find strength in nature during the COVID-19 pandemic


A new study from University of Gävle shows that nature is by far the most important resource in coping with stress and with working remotely for staff at universities and university colleges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Naturen som kraftkälla

In a new study, researchers have investigated what copings methods university staff at higher education institutions in Sweden used to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, but also how they coped with working from home during the crisis.

Nature most important

The study shows that nature is the most important resource to turn to when processing thoughts and emotions the COVID-19 crisis causes. A majority, 56 percent, say that nature has been an important resource for them in dealing with stress and remote working during the crisis.

“Three of the four most common methods to cope with the pandemic has a connection to nature. Listening to the sound of the natural surroundings becomes a coping method and so does being involved in different outdoor activities,” says Fereshteh Ahmadi, professor in sociology at University of Gävle.

Spiritual but not religious

It is also common to take comfort in the thought that life is part of a greater whole—as many as 45 percent had these thoughts—and to cope with the crisis by being alone. Almost 3 out of 10 stated that they cope with the crisis just by being alone and engaging in contemplation.

“Women in cities have these thought more often than men. It is also common to have a faith in an inherent spiritual power which can provide help. Turning to religion for support is less common,” Fereshteh Ahmadi says.

Family gives meaning to life

When researchers look at the sources used to cope with the crisis rather than the specific methods, family stands out as the primary source which gives life meaning during the COVID-19 crisis.

“As many as 96 percent say that family gives life meaning to some extent, to a fairly large extent and to a large extent, and friends are second in importance. However, religion and spirituality do not give life meaning to a majority of the participants”.

A majority also say that they have a strong ability to recover and that they are in good health, this is especially true for men and middle-aged participants, Önver Cetrez says.

Satisfied with working from home if the workload doesn’t increase

Most participants are satisfied with working from home. As many as 61 percent state that they are satisfied or very satisfied and only 25 percent are dissatisfied.

“It is important to point out that those who feel that their workload is more or less the same or has been reduced tend to be more satisfied. Moreover, middle-aged people are more satisfied than those who are younger or older. This may be related to having children at home and being able to find more time to spend with them,” Fereshteh Ahmadi says.


Fereshteh Ahmadi, professor in sociology, University of Gävle
E-mail: Fereshteh.Ahmadi@hig.se
Phone: 070-717 19 07

Andreas Önver Cetrez, senior lecturer in psychology of religion, Uppsala University
E-mail: onver.cetrez@teol.uu.se
Phone: 018-471 2683

Text: Douglas Öhrbom
Photo: Fredrik Telleus / Maskot / TT

Published by: Douglas Öhrbom Page responsible: Anders Munck Updated: 2021-01-12
Högskolan i Gävle
Box 801 76 GÄVLE
026-64 85 00 (växel)