UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

(Re)searching teacher wellbeing : an exploration of the relationship between mindful nature experiences and mental health Loland, Darlene Marie


This qualitative study used a wholistic and relational lens to explore the ways mindful nature experiences impacted the mental health and wellbeing of four educators. Aligned with findings from a growing body of international research on the importance of attending to teacher wellbeing for teacher, student and school health, this study, which included an artistic experience, drew upon transcultural and interdisciplinary studies to consider how mindfully engaging with nature within an educators’ work context impacts teachers’ sense of wellbeing. A hybrid arts-based phenomenological methodology was used to provide a reflective, embodied, and flexible approach. Four participants engaged in three personally chosen mindful nature experiences and an artistic reflective activity—eco-mandala making—to delve deeper into how their thoughts, emotions, sensations, and senses were influenced by these experiences. Data were collected through participant-collected artifacts, open-ended individual interviews, and the arts-based method of eco-mandala. Data analysis was iterative involving thematic analysis and coding of interviews, supported by participant pictures, collected artifacts, and the created eco-mandalas. Within the limitations of this study, four overarching themes provide a set of findings that highlight the interconnected and multidimensional impacts mindful nature experiences had on teacher mental health and wellbeing: Nature Nurtures Positive Emotion, Nature Provides a Physical and Mental Escape (Space & Pace), Nature Magnifies Mental Health and Wellbeing Links Between Teachers and Students, and Nature Deepens Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Curricular/Learning Connections. A conceptual model was developed to describe the positive effects that mindful nature experiences had on these teacher participants. This study highlighted gaps in research connecting nature, mindful attention, and teacher wellbeing and offers field-related recommendations for future research, as well as methodological and practical recommendations.

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