Green Spaces Impact On Mental Health

In recent years, the interest in exposure to green spaces and children and adolescent mental health has grown. There is now evidence to suggest a positive connection between exposure to green spaces, such as grassy areas, and improved mental health. It is called “green space therapy.” Exactly how does green space affect mental health?

While green grass itself may not directly impact mental health, spending time in green spaces has several benefits for mental well-being. Just 5 minutes of exercise in a park, on a nature trail, or in another green space will enhance mental health.

People who spend more time in nature enjoy enhanced cognitive functioning, increased attention, better impulse control and reduced stress. They also are less likely to suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, and have lower cortisol levels. Physical activity causes the release of endorphins (feel good hormones), this is a natural mood booster.  

Reduced mental fatigue is another benefit of green space therapy resulting from exposure to greenery. Mindfulness often occurs with green space therapy as well as sensory experiences (smells, visual stimuli, touch, sounds, and movement). Since the early 80s, other countries have been prescribing time outdoors for health benefits.

A duration of 20-30 minutes 3 days a week has been found to be most effective for providing physiological and psychological benefits. Our children, adolescents, and adults live in a time where they are consumed by gaming systems, phones, computers, tv and social media every day. This keeps them inside way too much with very little exposure to the outdoors.  As a result, they have little exposure to sunlight, exercise, appreciating nature, and socializing with others. Our bodies need all these things to strive! So, make it a priority to get up and get outside a few days a week for a walk, bike ride, work in the yard or garden area, or just sit and relax. The benefits will amaze you!

Martha Hollingsworth, LPC

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