1 in 6 of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our life. The most common psychological issues are stress and anxiety. But don’t panic, picnic. Green spaces such as parks can boost mental wellbeing by reducing stress, anxiety and depression.
UK researchers have found that green spaces are not only beneficial but sustainably beneficial to mental health. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology found green spaces lowered depression and anxiety, but, moreover, the positive effects lasted far longer than ‘big hitting’ events such as marriage or winning the lottery, which wore off after a year or so.
The researchers used data from the British Household Panel Survey (also known as the Understanding Society Survey) which involves 40,000 households answering multiple questions on income, marital status and general health which is used by medics.
After 3 years people who lived near a green space still reported good mental health, lower stress levels, improved coping methods and better communication skills. Co-author Mathew White, from the European Centre for Environmental and Human Health, said “living in an urban area with relatively high levels of green space can have a significant positive impact on wellbeing”.
Another study published in the Journal of Psychological science reported that 94% of their 5,000 participants said ‘green exercise’ benefited their overall health. The study also found that for every 10% increase in green space there’s a decrease in health complaints.
Not only does a stroll in the park relieve stress and aid mental well being, it benefits physical health by promoting physical activity (the most popular of which is walking) and even improves social health by encouraging interaction with other people. So head on down to your local green patch for some fresh air, exercise and leisure time.