Since the pandemic struck, Brits have been getting out into green spaces more than ever before. “Nature has been a source of solace for many, as lockdown rules have heightened our appreciation for local parks and green spaces,” says a recent report from the Office of National Statistics.
Getting outside into local parks, nature spots and other areas of natural beauty has helped us to escape the four walls of our homes. It has helped ease our anxiety or depression and break away from the stresses of remote working, home schooling, financial worries and concerns about our health and to simply relax.
This Love Parks Week (23rd July - 1st August 2021), we’d like to highlight why this time in green spaces can be so beneficial for our mental health and how you can continue to enjoy the benefits.
Nature helps us feel good
We feel good when we are in green spaces or natural surroundings because as humans, we evolved to spend time in nature.
Our shift to urban environments like towns and cities only happened a few thousand years ago - a mere blink of an eye when compared to the 300,000 years that humans have existed for. Back then, we needed access to water, food and shelter to survive- exactly what streams, rivers, trees, open green spaces and other natural features would have provided.
This could be why spending time in nature makes such a difference to our mental health and wellbeing. According to a personal account from a lady called Jill, published on the MIND website;
"It is hard to explain the power of nature in relieving both my physical and mental stress ... There is little more relaxing than sitting with a cup of tea looking at a hill through a window and hearing the nearby stream trickle away. There is something about the quiet calm of nature that is contagious, leaving a quiet calm in my mind."
But you don’t need to sell up and move to the countryside to enjoy the mental health benefits of green space. Recent research suggests that living close to green space such as a local park can have a significant benefit on your mental wellbeing for adults and young people alike.
5 ideas to get you outside (whilst staying healthy)
Here are some great ways you can enjoy your local green spaces.
1. Do an outdoor activity you love: Get off your screen and have fun outside by trying a new activity or indulging in one you already love. This could include walking, running, hiking, running around with your kids, going for a bike ride, or whatever else tickles you fancy. You’ll get your green time, boost those feel-good endorphins and stay active too.
2. Start gardening: Gardening is a great way to reduce your stress levels and improve your mood. Whether you have a veggie garden that would make Monty Don proud, or you just have a handful of herbs, getting out there will help you stay active and enjoy the fresh air.
3. Take a break: You don’t need to spend hours outside to benefit from green time in your garden. Even if you simply take your cup of tea outside, sit with a book in the garden or take your morning yoga session outside, you’ll soon feel the benefits. If you don’t have a garden, head to your local park instead.
4. Don’t forget to use sun cream! Cases of skin cancer in the UK have increased by 156% since the 1970s so make sure you take care of yourself when you’re going outside. Cover up, use a high SPF sunscreen and reapply often.
5. Take care of your allergies: You can still go outside if you suffer from hay fever and other seasonal allergies. Get outside early in the morning or later in the day when the pollen count is lower, take an antihistamine and follow the tips we share in this blog post.
During Love Parks week, why not get out into the great outdoors and enjoy some green space? You’ll feel better for it, it will give you perspective and it will have a positive impact on your outlook. Enjoy!