According to recent research, increased exposure to ‘greenspace’ can significantly improve mood. The study has been linked to improved symptoms of depression in adults and hyperactivity in children — all because of the way our brains are wired.
While the study results are being interpreted, some of the leading theories suggest that our evolution amongst greenspaces has led to a positive association. At the same time, natural spaces also provide more opportunities for active play and exercise. So, any form of greenspace, from hiking in the wilderness to gardening or bringing plants into the office, can increase a positive outlook. The opposite can be said of urban spaces, which are associated with stress, loneliness and higher levels of depression.
These findings are currently based on 40 independent studies with a variety of methodologies, whilst more research is needed they offer a promising initial view. A further change is happening with regards to cultural outlook too. Attempts are now being made to increase research funding in non-European or East Asian countries to understand further how other cultures interact with nature. Such studies could also delve deeper into widely held spiritual and cultural beliefs to understand how we as humans perceive and are influenced by greenspaces.
To make the most of your outdoors, here’s a list of green activities you can try:
Find a bike or walking trail nearby and take a day trip.
- Set a goal to do a Great Walk in Aotearoa and get walking to train.
- Find a bike or walking trail nearby and take a day trip.
- Take your next lunch break in a nearby park.
- Introduce more plants into your office (but check first that no one has any allergies).
- Try to take your yoga session outside.
- Pick up an outdoor sport or activity.
- Grow vegetables or fresh herbs.
Source: The Guardian, Biological Psychiatry Global Open Science