With an estimated 1 in 5 adults struggling with mental health, actively discussing wellness is crucial to supporting one another through resources, awareness, and destigmatization. We also understand that barriers to support for mental health can be challenging, highlighting the possibility that these numbers may be underreported.
One remedy is found through access to nature, as it turns out. Scientific research continues to explore the many ways natural environments benefit our health. More than fresh oxygen and vitamin D, spending time outdoors has the power to lift our mood and relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Engaging with nature can also lower cortisol levels and blood pressure, showing physiological relief from stress.
THE POSITIVE IMPACTS OF GREEN SPACE + NATURAL ENVIRONMENTS
Research has been underway to study the positive benefits that green space and natural environments deliver. Green space is any land with plant life, such as grass, trees, and flowers. It can exist in parks, courtyards, community gardens, and pathways. Wetlands, forests, and mountains are among other natural spaces. Studies on the environment, urban planning, and healthcare alike show the physical and mental benefits of spending time in these outdoor settings.
Dedicating just 2 hours per week to engaging with nature rewards us with a mood boost, improved attention, and relief from symptoms of stress, including lower blood pressure. We often partake in physical activity or socializing when we spend time outside, benefitting both our physical and mental health. Moving our body and satisfying the human need for social contact can work wonders for our mind, body, and spirit.
On top of these scientifically-backed reasons for spending time in nature, we can all appreciate a relaxing environment that brings a sense of peace and calm. These settings require less attention, allowing our brain a rest from cognitive processes. In return, we resume our day refreshed - better able to think, decide, and process emotions. Amid the demand from our phones, work, and responsibilities, nature can help us exhale + disconnect.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE ARE DEPRIVED OF GREEN + NATURAL SPACES
Ideally, elements of nature would be accessible to all. Depending on the location, however, green spaces may not be widely accessible or well-kept. Studies suggest that without equitable access to green and natural spaces, we are not only unable to reap the benefits but our health may begin to suffer.
Neighborhoods of lower socioeconomic status tend to have fewer green spaces available. Without nearby areas to enjoy, communities are deprived of tools for stress-release and safe, communal spaces. Residents in these communities may find cognitive functions are impacted including difficulty with problem-solving, memory, decision-making, and managing emotions. Research done in metropolitan areas across the globe has shown reduced crime and stress levels when residents have public, natural spaces in their neighborhoods. Additionally, green spaces tend to be maintained by both local agencies and neighbors, allowing residents to feel better about the communities they live in
MORE REASON TO BRING NATURE INDOORS
Indoor houseplants are a therapeutic, sustainable way to access the benefits of nature in our own homes - including cleaner air. As many as 62% of Grounded customers have noticed more mindfulness and a mood boost since having plants in their space. These numbers of personal testimony back up what has been confirmed by social and scientific studies. For those that work from home or move through the day’s bustle to get to and from work, a home with plants becomes a much-welcomed haven after a full day.
This Mental Health Awareness month and always, we invite you to reconnect with nature. Some fresh ways to get out there this season:
- Find a community garden to volunteer or visit (or grow your own!)
- Search for new trails, water bodies, and parks to visit
- Plan a trip with friends to the nearest state or national park
- Prepare a picnic at a local park
- Grow wildflowers in vacant lots
- TLC time for your houseplants - such as dusting, repotting and misting
Speaking directly to mental health and advocating for wellness is at the root of our mission to reconnect humans to nature. By delivering the benefits of living plants, we aim to share the therapeutic qualities that plants offer us, lending a way to a more balanced, healthy life.