Feel blue? Touch Green
It works like magic.
There are many fabulous benefits from green spaces. We inherently know that our environment can affect our health, both positively and negatively. A natural environment becomes restorative when it takes your attention from the stressors of daily life. As you get tired or stressed, it becomes difficult to focus and life’s problems and difficulties can become all-consuming. By taking time out and spending time in a favourite place or a local park, taking a walk along the beach, or venturing into the mountains, people gain restorative benefits.
Restoration occurs if the area is fascinating enough to hold the person’s attention. If the landscape is either too cluttered or oversimplified, restoration benefits are unlikely to occur. Also, if the landscape is not authentic and not connected to a larger whole, your attention will only be held momentarily, and restoration benefits will be limited.
The psychological benefits from being in green spaces increase with the level of biodiversity. So, the more complex the space, the better you will feel. Our cities ought to be embracing complexity.
A quality green space/ natural environment will provide opportunities for:
- Reflection, the ability to gain perspective and see you and your problems are small in relation to the larger world.
- Distinct identity: uniqueness of self and place.
- Sense of identity and belonging. In NZ this is referred to our Turangiwaewae.
- People living around green spaces have fewer health problems.
- Hospitals where patients have an outlook onto green space, or natural elements recover faster.
- People have a lower heart rate from being in green spaces.
With all these fabulous benefits, why isn’t there opportunities to experience nature all over our cities?
Kaplan, R. and S. Kaplan (1995). “The Experience of Nature: A Psychological Perspective. Ulrichís Bookstore.” Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Fuller, R.A et al (2007)Psychological benefits of green space increase with biodiversity.