With our growing reliance on technology comes a widespread need for mental health outlets to keep ourselves both productive and happy throughout the year. Thankfully, positive mental health environments can be found right in your own backyard—literally! Your outdoor living space offers therapeutic benefits to escape from urban pressure, disconnect from your technology and reconnect with life outside.
Want to start improving your mental health right now? Try swapping a scroll on your screen for a stroll in the park or around your yard. Here’s what you need to know:
The Impact of Your Environment
Your environment can greatly impact your health and well-being. For example, urban environments can be overwhelming due to issues such as population density, noise and pollution. According to a study from the Arkin Mental Health Institute in Amsterdam, people who live in rural areas experience fewer mental health problems than those who live in cities. For example, rural inhabitants experience:
- A decrease in depressive disorders by up to 39%
- A decrease in anxiety disorders by up to 21%
- Half the risk of schizophrenia
- A decrease in the rate of substance addiction
Because so many of these statistics are tied to overly stimulating urban elements and limited access to nature, the need for refuge from the noise, pollution, and the all-around stressful city lifestyle is more important than ever.
Science of the “Green”
City-dwellers have started to address the growing need for nature as a way to help them cope with the overly stimulating experience of living in the city. These green spaces offer an area where people can have daily contact with vegetation (trees, grass, forests, parks, etc.) as a space of refuge.The keyword here is nature. Nature has proven to help reduce feelings of stress, improve concentration and greatly aid one’s emotional state. In fact, epidemiological studies have confirmed that long-term exposure to green spaces has a direct correlation to improved mental health conditions because they offer a source of refuge from city and suburban stimuli.
Trees Have a Feeling of Nostalgia
Trees are often a staple of our childhood — from Shel Silverstein’s tree that was generous to a fault to the magically idyllic world of treehouse time travel imagined by Mary Pope Osborne. Trees and nature tend to represent a simpler time and are often tied to the joys of our youth. From lakeside rope swings to the winding trees that helped us invade the skies, trees permeate our childhood memories.
This feeling translates to positive mental health statistics. For example, neighborhoods with a tree canopy of 30% or more saw a 31% decrease in the odds of developing psychological distress.
Thanks to the inherently large, absorbent and fresh nature of trees, they can help provide a source of relief from the urban noise and pollution. On a neighborhood level, trees throughout an entire urban area can create a quieter, cleaner environment for adults and children alike.
How to Use Green Spaces
Green spaces have a multitude of uses and take a variety of forms such as parks, sports fields, woods, lakesides and gardens. Green spaces are most effective when they are accessible or proximal to work and living spaces.
Life gets busy, so stepping outside to enjoy the mental health benefits does not always feel feasible. However, there are many studies that show nature can help reduce stress, restore concentration and improve your mood by just looking at green spaces.
With that in mind, green spaces can be used as more than a place to relax. Take Amazon’s green headquarters for example. In this instance, the in-office green space has allowed employees to tap into their creativity and relieve them of day-to-day stressors.
Creating Your Own Green Space
Green spaces don’t need to be exclusive to public areas or office buildings. As many businesses have shifted towards remote working environments, the need for in-home or nearby green spaces has increased greatly.
If you are wanting to create your own green space, look no further than your own backyard. Rather than traveling to a park, imagine being able to step outside your home and immediately be immersed in a nature-filled environment for physical activity or relaxation. Some simple things you can start doing right now to make this concept a reality include:
- Get your lawn up-to-snuff with a custom lawn care plan
- Plant and protect trees and shrubs in your yard
- Grow your own backyard garden
- Make your outdoor living space comfortable with furniture and dining sets
Building your own green space may feel like a large undertaking, but it doesn’t need to be one you take on alone. If you have any questions or concerns about maintaining a healthy lawn or green space, the experts at TruGreen are always available to help. Our TruGreen specialists will develop a custom lawn care plan that is tailored to your needs.
For more information about TruGreen’s range of lawn care services, call 866.688.6722 or check out the services we offer.