October 10th is World Mental Health Day!
And what better topic to discuss than how trees can vastly improve mental health.
You’re probably aware of the great things trees do for our physical health— filter out harmful air pollutants, produce nutritious fruit, provide shady canopied sidewalks to motivate you to walk or jog outside on hot summer days.
You may also have heard that enjoying nature is beneficial to our mental health. I could go on and on about studies that show how a walk in the forest reduces stress, or how people have reported more creativity and better focus after spending time around forested areas.
Although these studies are certainly useful, they aren’t my favorite when it comes to discussing trees and mental health. The separation of “city” and “forest” in these studies suggests that if you want to take a beat to focus on your mental health, you need to drive out to the middle of nowhere and hike into the woods. It’s unfeasible to do every day.
But, I want to give you all PROOF that by simply planting trees in your neighborhood, you can still improve your mental health, and you don’t need to drive all the way out to the Great Smokies to do so.
Here’s a list of studies that discuss how urban forests and neighborhood trees improve our mental state.
Trees and Stress:
Trees and Productivity:
Trees and Children:
Trees and Exercise Mentality:
Let’s face it, 2020 has been a pretty rough year, and it’s taught us that your mental health needs to be taken as seriously as physical health. Just like you would remind yourself to drink enough water each day and eat a vegetable at every meal, try adding in “spend time around trees today.” The way you can manage anxiety and stress might be in your own backyard.
Citations (as they appear in post):
Kühn, S., Düzel, S., Eibich, P. et al. In search of features that co x/nstitute an “enriched environment” in humans: Associations between geographical properties and brain structure. Sci Rep 7, 11920 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-12046-7
Thompson, C. W., Roe, J., Aspinall, P., Mitchell, R., Clow, A., & Miller, D. (2012). More green space is linked to less stress in deprived communities: Evidence from salivary cortisol patterns. Landscape and Urban Planning, 105(3), 221-229. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2011.12.015
Lee, K. E., Williams, K. J., Sargent, L. D., Williams, N. S., & Johnson, K. A. (2015). 40-second green roof views sustain attention: The role of micro-breaks in attention restoration. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 42, 182-189. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2015.04.003
Taylor, A. F., & Kuo, F. E. (2011). Could Exposure to Everyday Green Spaces Help Treat ADHD? Evidence from Children’s Play Settings. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3(3), 281-303. doi:10.1111/j.1758-0854.2011.01052.x
Residential green space in childhood is associated with lower risk of psychiatric disorders from adolescence into adulthood. Kristine Engemann, Carsten Bøcker Pedersen, Lars Arge, Constantinos Tsirogiannis, Preben Bo Mortensen, Jens-Christian Svenning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Mar 2019, 116 (11) 5188-5193; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1807504116
Visual Color Perception in Green Exercise: Positive Effects on Mood and Perceived Exertion Adam Akers, Jo Barton, Rachel Cossey, Patrick Gainsford, Murray Griffin, and Dominic Micklewright. Environmental Science & Technology 2012 46 (16), 8661-8666 Reid, C., Clougherty, J., Shmool, J., & Kubzansky, L. (2017). Is All Urban Green Space the Same? A Comparison of the Health Benefits of Trees and Grass in New York City. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health,14(11), 1411. doi:10.3390/ijerph14111411
Photo citation: How Nature Benefits Your Mental Health. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2020, from https://www.vice.com/en/article/ppveky/why-is-nature-actually-good-for-your-mental-health