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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01858

Nature-based Guided Imagery as an Intervention for State Anxiety

  • 1Psychology, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
  • 2Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom

Anxiety is a significant mental health issue in modern society and empirical research into effective interventions to address anxiety has been extensive. Spending time in nature is one approach that has demonstrated anxiolytic effects. However, in some situations and contexts spending time in nature in order to reduce anxiety symptoms may not be possible. For example, in therapeutic settings delivered in a space with no access or exposure to any nature stimuli in the immediate surrounding environment. Guided imagery has also proven to be effective for reducing anxiety symptoms. Thus, nature-based guided imagery might help to overcome the limitation of access to nature and strengthen the impact of guided imagery interventions. The current study investigated the effectiveness of nature-based guided imagery (GI) on anxiety reduction. Participants (n=48, 18 males, 30 females, Mage = 34.54, SDage = 12.91, age range = 19 – 71 years) with moderate levels of either trait or state anxiety as measured by the state-trait anxiety inventory (STAI) were recruited. Participants undertook both a nature-based GI session and a traditional non-nature-based GI session and their pre- and post- state anxiety levels were measured in each GI session. It was anticipated that post state anxiety scores would be significantly lower for both GI conditions and that a significantly greater anxiety reduction would be found in the nature-based GI than the urban-based GI. A two-way analysis of variance for repeated measures revealed results that supported both hypotheses. This study was the first to compare a nature based GI intervention with a traditional (non-nature based) GI intervention. Findings indicate that nature-based GI interventions are highly effective anxiety management interventions that have the added benefit of being cost-effective and easily accessible.

Keywords: Anxiety, nature, guided imagery, anxiolytic, stait-trait anxiety inventory

Received: 03 Apr 2018; Accepted: 11 Sep 2018.

Edited by:

Kalevi M. Korpela, University of Tampere, Finland

Reviewed by:

Elizabeth K. Nisbet, Trent University, Canada
Angelo Panno, Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy  

Copyright: © 2018 Nguyen and Brymer. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Eric Brymer, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom, E.brymer@leedsbeckett.ac.uk