open access

Vol 18, No 3 (2021)
Research paper
Published online: 2021-06-18
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An ornithological walk to improve the well-being of mental health professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic: a pilot study

Sławomir Murawiec, Piotr Tryjanowski, Anna Nita
DOI: 10.5603/PSYCH.a2021.0024
·
Psychiatria 2021;18(3):190-195.

open access

Vol 18, No 3 (2021)
Prace oryginalne - nadesłane
Published online: 2021-06-18

Abstract

Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many routines worldwide and has also affected the mental
health of psychiatric patients and mental health professionals. One of the suggested methods for mental health
improvement is more intensive contact with nature, including birdwatching as a hobby.

Material and methods: After an ornithological walk in February 2021 for 5 psychiatrists and psychotherapists,
in spite of unfavourable weather, all participants very positively evaluated the impact of birding on their well-
-being, mood and subjective evaluation of stress level.

Results: Particularly important is an observation that the pandemic reality forced the whole society, including
mental health professionals, to limit their behaviours and attitudes to very “adult” and responsible ones. Everyday
life was reduced to functioning based on a very concrete approach to reality while abandoning activities
that stimulate imagination (travels, theatre, arts). The ornithological walk allowed participants to abandon the
pandemic reality and enter the space of playfulness, fantasies and childhood experiences. It enabled immersion
in a friendly “mother-world” in which sensory perceptions proved to be important: smell, touch (“rush of air”),
feeling of space. Birds were perceived not only as direct objects of observations but also as symbols of freedom,
energy and lightness.

Conclusions: Despite the small group size, ornithological walks are recommended as a nature-based intervention
exerting a positive influence on the mental health of psychiatrists and psychotherapists. It is also believed to
positively affect the management of their patients, although this and many other aspects require further research.

Abstract

Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many routines worldwide and has also affected the mental
health of psychiatric patients and mental health professionals. One of the suggested methods for mental health
improvement is more intensive contact with nature, including birdwatching as a hobby.

Material and methods: After an ornithological walk in February 2021 for 5 psychiatrists and psychotherapists,
in spite of unfavourable weather, all participants very positively evaluated the impact of birding on their well-
-being, mood and subjective evaluation of stress level.

Results: Particularly important is an observation that the pandemic reality forced the whole society, including
mental health professionals, to limit their behaviours and attitudes to very “adult” and responsible ones. Everyday
life was reduced to functioning based on a very concrete approach to reality while abandoning activities
that stimulate imagination (travels, theatre, arts). The ornithological walk allowed participants to abandon the
pandemic reality and enter the space of playfulness, fantasies and childhood experiences. It enabled immersion
in a friendly “mother-world” in which sensory perceptions proved to be important: smell, touch (“rush of air”),
feeling of space. Birds were perceived not only as direct objects of observations but also as symbols of freedom,
energy and lightness.

Conclusions: Despite the small group size, ornithological walks are recommended as a nature-based intervention
exerting a positive influence on the mental health of psychiatrists and psychotherapists. It is also believed to
positively affect the management of their patients, although this and many other aspects require further research.

Get Citation

Keywords

birdwatching, COVID-19, weather, birds, well-being, ornithological walk, nature-based interventions, health professionals, play, stress reduction, cognitive functions

About this article
Title

An ornithological walk to improve the well-being of mental health professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic: a pilot study

Journal

Psychiatria (Psychiatry)

Issue

Vol 18, No 3 (2021)

Article type

Research paper

Pages

190-195

Published online

2021-06-18

DOI

10.5603/PSYCH.a2021.0024

Bibliographic record

Psychiatria 2021;18(3):190-195.

Keywords

birdwatching
COVID-19
weather
birds
well-being
ornithological walk
nature-based interventions
health professionals
play
stress reduction
cognitive functions

Authors

Sławomir Murawiec
Piotr Tryjanowski
Anna Nita

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