Do you feel sluggish? Do you stare at the four dreary corners of your office every day? Are you feeling sick and tired of being cooped up?
If you are, then it is high time that you get up and go to green spaces where you can become refreshed and re-energized. Green spaces such as parks, community gardens, or even an indoor rainforest can bring about a number of positive benefits.
Alongside urbanization and the growth of mega-cities, more and more people are spending time indoors. Whether it is because of work or for recreation and pleasure, people have gotten used to spending most of their time inside buildings and other enclosed spaces. Unfortunately, some of these spaces have yet to incorporate green urban design concepts and, as such, can cause adverse effects on the health and well-being of their occupants.
Green and open spaces that have lush vegetation, shrubs, trees, other natural flora and fauna can have a positive impact on your life. In fact, a study published in Scientific Reports in June 2019 shares that spending at least 120 minutes a week or at least two hours a day communing with nature can be good for one’s health and well-being.
Green spaces are not necessarily just outdoor spaces. On the other side of the spectrum, there are proponents for creating urban green spaces that plan for their buildings and work areas to incorporate elements of nature. Modern technology (as well as current lifestyles) have inspired the introduction of green spaces in office buildings, places of recreation, and other public spaces.
You can find green roofs in the midst of a city, lush gardens and even a waterfall in commercial structures such as those found in Singapore’s Changi Airport, and even a man-made rainforest such as an indoor bio-dome found in Dubai.
Aside from their aesthetic advantages, green spaces can be good for you in several ways. Here are the top three benefits of spending time in green spaces:
Spending time in nature and green spaces can have a positive impact on your mental health. Studies say that nature has healing powers and that nature-related activities can help lower stress, improve your mood, and can provoke feelings of awe.
A study published in Frontiers of Psychology also showed that spending time in mountains, forests, and natural bodies of water may also possibly reduce depression symptoms due to the negative ions released in these environmental settings.
Dr. Ming Kuo, a behavior and environment scientist at the University of Illinois, also found in a study that kids with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) were able to concentrate better after talking a nature walk. She shares further that people who spend time doing something relaxing feel more rejuvenated.
So next time you are feeling stressed, why not go to an indoor rainforest, feast your eyes on those amazing trees and plants, and have some fun interacting with the various species inside? You don’t need to go far away from the city just to lift your spirits up. Just a quick stroll in the park or public gardens can already perk you up.
The World Health Organization reports that physical inactivity due to lack of access to recreational areas and poor walkability accounts for 3.3 percent of deaths worldwide. Spending time in green spaces is recommended to help one avoid becoming part of these statistics. Walking, jogging, doing yoga, or simply meditating in nature can do much to improve physical fitness.
Dr. Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett of Norwich Medical School has led a study published in the Environmental Research journal that found green spaces to have positive health benefits. This includes risk reduction for certain disorders such as cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, pre-term birth, and type-2 diabetes.
The same study also found that people frequently in close proximity to green spaces or those who live close to nature get better sleep and experience fewer physical signs of stress. They further shared that exposure to good bacteria in these environmental settings can also help reduce inflammation and improve immunity.
Spending time in green spaces also enhances your relationship with the environment. It awakens your primal bond with nature through exposure to the natural flora and fauna of a place. It also allows opportunities for environmental awareness that may also lead to environmental conservation and advocacy.
Aside from giving you a chance to connect with nature, green spaces are also excellent venues for social interaction. Friendships can be formed with like-minded people who seek refuge under the canopy of trees or foliage. The respite from the cacophony of the city can be found in these green spaces while engaging in nature-related activities, environmental volunteerism, or simply getting some quiet time in the presence of plants and animals.
Green spaces, be they man-made ones built in the center of a city or natural countryside areas, can shower you with benefits that improve your mental and physical health as well as develop social cohesion and an appreciation for nature.
As the popular saying goes, you should take time to stop and smell the flowers. This is not just a figurative speech, but a literal invitation to take a break and immerse yourself in the emerald cocoon of Mother Nature.