How Green Spaces improve Mental Health

Green spaces are open areas covered by natural elements like plants, grass, and trees. These spaces help provide daily contact with nature when present in residential neighbourhoods, near workplaces, and more. However,  the increasing population in our cities is encroaching upon urban green spaces and the need to preserve them is becoming more and more important. And here’s why.

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Photo Credits: Mid-Day, Atul Kamble.

Studies have shown that contact with nature can help reduce feelings of stress, restore the ability to concentrate and pay attention, and improve our emotional state.  . In these studies, prolonged exposure to green space was assessed in three ways- the amount of vegetation surrounding the home, the percentage of land in the residential neighbourhood dedicated to greenery and the distance from the home to the nearest green space. These exposures were associated with improved mental health outcomes in a majority of observations, proving that urban green spaces are more important than we think.

Green spaces drastically reduce the impact of noise and air pollution, allowing residents to live healthier lives. They also play a pivotal role in the upbringing of children.

Over the last few years, the way children spend their time has changed completely. With a reduced amount of green space and an array of digital alternatives, children spend most of their time at home. In contrast, playing in the presence of nature can be extremely stimulating and encourages a child to explore their surroundings, become more comfortable with animals, insects, and birds. Further, the ability to run around freely can improve the long-term physical health of the child and allow them to use their imagination.

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Photo Credits: AgriNation

Exposure to green spaces can also be beneficial to older adults. Since they aren’t always capable of traveling long distances, green spaces close to them are a great boon. They provide an incentive for daily walks and opportunities for interactions with neighbours, which help older adults to stay physically and socially active and benefit their mental health. This is essential since there has been a significant increase in the elderly population in urban environments, where they may be more vulnerable to air pollution, heat, noise, and social isolation.

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Photo Credits: seniority.in

Given the current prevalence and costs of mental ill-health and the inevitable rise in global urbanisation, there is a need for greater collaboration between nature and governments. It is important to incorporate green spaces into the design of buildings, healthcare facilities, social care settings, homes, and communities to create shared spaces that facilitate interaction and attachment, foster well-being, and increase opportunities for exercise.

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Being India’s first planned city, Chandigarh was designed to give nature and infrastructure equal importance. This earned it the title of India’s Greenest City.

With urban development not being able to cope with the rising population, combined with the lack of availability of space for greenery, city planners have come up with radical ways of integrating nature with urban development. Read our previous blog to know more about some of the craziest sustainable architecture projects around the world! – http://tocoexist.com/why-sustainable-architecture-is-the-future/

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