Reviving the traditional festive walk could be the key to a happier Christmas, researchers say.
The study found 80% of Britain’s happiest people have a strong connection with nature and the outdoors.
The National Trust commissioned the research as part of its investigation into public access and enjoyment of the outdoors.
The results build on findings from Essex University earlier this year which showed as little as five minutes in green space can have a significant impact on things like depression, stress and low self esteem.
Mark Harold, from the National Trust, said: “Wellbeing and happiness are complicated areas to properly measure but these findings support a growing number of academic studies that show the importance of access to the outdoors for both health and wellbeing.
“Christmas is that one time of the year when the whole nation wraps up and goes for a walk with friends and family so it makes sense to ask questions now about happiness and the outdoors, particularly of those who access the outdoors less frequently.”
With the development of a wellbeing measure high on the Government’s agenda, there is growing interest in how the outdoors can bring low cost benefits for public wellbeing and health.
The National Trust wants to examine this link by surveying people as they venture out on festive walks over the Christmas period. They are asking people to add #festivewalks messages to Twitter and Facebook to say whether they feel happier or not after their walk, and the results will be analysed and published on the Outdoor Nation website www.outdoornation.org.uk in January.
Mr Harold added: “Over recent years, the stress of Christmas has increased – so much so that a search for ‘Christmas stress tips’ on Google returns more than 17 million results.
“The festive walk is one such antidote and often bears a sharp contrast to commercial build-up to Christmas. Whether it’s a bracing hilltop march or an amble through the park, I know many people value walking as a simple pleasure and a chance to unwind from the hustle and bustle of the season.”