The Importance of Urban Green Spaces on Our Mental Health

7 October 2021 3 minute read

For World Mental Health Day, we celebrate urban trees, parks and green spaces, and the ways they have supported our mental health and wellbeing through some difficult times, especially over the last 18 months and the pandemic.

Urban trees are an excellent remedy for improving our mental health and wellbeing. A growing body of research is showing that spending time around trees and nature reduces depression and anxiety, especially when combined with exercise. Time amongst trees decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases people’s sense of wellbeing.

Researcher Twohig-Bennett said: "One of the really interesting things we found is that exposure to greenspace significantly reduces people's levels of salivary cortisol - a physiological marker of stress. Forest bathing is already really popular as a therapy in Japan, with participants spending time in the forest walking around. Our study shows that perhaps they have the right idea!”

Urban Forest Bathing

At Trees for Cities, we love the concept of Forest Bathing. The same way you would bathe in water or under the sun, Forest Bathing is the practice of walking among the trees to enjoy the benefits they bring to your mental wellbeing. Here are our top 5 tips for beginners:

1. Find a park, urban forest or wild woodland near you.

2. Research your trail options based on how much time you have to spare; whether you’re looking to ‘bathe’ for a few minutes or an hour.

3. Have a break from all things social media. This is a time to switch off from the world and enjoy quiet time in nature. Awaken all your senses. Take slow deep breaths in. Notice the clean air. Listen to natural sounds around you. Look up. See the wildlife in the trees and count the varieties of green. Marvel at its ancient strength and hidden history.

4. Do it regularly. It may not come up high on your weekly to-do list, but Forest Bathing is something you should try to incorporate into your life.

5. Artists throughout history have found inspiration in nature, but spending time in woods is not only inspiring, it can boost your creativity. This means when you get home, you can let your creativity flow by writing a poem or painting a picture inspired by your journey. If you do, make sure you share on social media using the hashtag #GenerationTree and tag @treesforcities so that we can share with with our followers!

This World Mental Health Day we encourage you to spend some time with urban nature and take the chance to appreciate the green spaces in your local area. These spaces can help make us happier and healthier, therefore improving our life quality.

Not to mention the ways urban trees impact air quality, wildlife, prevent flooding, provide shade, and so much more. Never before has the value of urban green space been more apparent. It is vital that we carry on greening urban landscapes - and we hope you can help us get there!

Our #HealthierCities campaign aims to do just that, by integrating tree planting further into urban development, ensuring that the mental health benefits of our leafy friends are available to all for a long time to come. Find out more information below.

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