5 Surprising Ways Green Spaces in Cities Affect Mental Health

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greenspace in cities

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The oldest cities are 6000 years old, but urban living is relatively new. Initially, the city was a commercial point for the surrounding population. There wasn’t too much regard for green spaces.

Nowadays, progress in science made it clear that green spaces are vital for our well-being. Not only do green spaces protect our lungs, but they also protect our minds. The vibrant green of fresh grass perfectly contrasts the dull nature of concrete.

Even if we’re busy and walking with our heads down to reach work, a quick glimpse of urban nature relaxes us and gives us an immediate mood boost.

Biologist Edward O. Wilson made a staggering hypothesis in 1984. His “biophilia” theory states that humans are attracted to nature because they’ve evolved in it. Our late arrival to the cities has left our brains wired to cues that would have increased our survival chances in the wild: trees, rivers, rich fauna, etc. We associate nature with prosperity and survival.

There are many benefits green spaces have for our mental health – let’s dive right in:

Green is the color of hope

greenspace in cities 1

The term greenspace is an umbrella term to describe managed or unmanaged natural reserves and wilderness environments.

Urban parks, for example, are the staple of every grand city. They’re called recreational parks for a reason – people go there to relax and admire the aesthetics of nature. Several population studies found that green spaces play pivotal roles in protecting the general population from physical and psychological illnesses, but how?

Well, there are multiple reasons.

First of all, the color green represents hope. Most people recognize green as the color of life. Different shades of green transmit restfulness and other soothing emotions. Cut grass, tall trees, and dense forests are all green elements that convey freshness.

Our brains recognize green nature as protective and resourceful. That’s why even the tiniest green patches can lower depression.

Urban nature fights pollution

greenspace - less pollution

The forest is called the “green lung” for a reason.

The research found that nature produces oxygen and filters out the smog. People with asthma and cardiovascular problems have a higher life quality in cities with abundant and diverse fauna.

Air pollution is responsible for numerous casualties: over 10 million people die each year. The most polluted cities are from Asian towns in China, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Green spaces lower temperatures

greenspaces lower temperature

Concrete jungles can get very hot in summer. For instance, Los Angeles set the world record of 121 Fahrenheit degrees (just under 50 degrees Celsius) in Woodland Hills.

Having a cool city is fundamental for the general population’s mood. Our bodies function the best at an ideal air temperature of 71 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius).

How can you set yourself to be productive on a day with almost double the temperature?

You can’t.

The lack of urban nature can paralyze a city in the summer. Not to mention that people with heart conditions can’t even go outside on regular hot days.

Underprivileged communities that can’t afford AC systems are struggling to keep sane inside by adopting indoor plants.

Dense fauna reduces city noises

tranquil urban spaces

Noise pollution is another problem in large cities. Constant traffic, construction sites, and other urban activities add up to hundreds of decibels that penetrate our houses and eardrums.

If the sound waves don’t encounter obstacles, they can travel vast distances. The most efficient barrier to buffer out the sound is foliage. Trees, bushy plants, and similar vegetation stop the sound from traveling. That means that city people will become less stressed and will be able to concentrate more.

Green spaces can be a great place for remote writers, designers and other people working in creative industries to flourish outside of often restrictive traditional working environments. As remote work becomes more accepted in these industries, green cities may become the best places for writers and creatives to live.

Having a quiet town is all the more critical with the current pandemic situation.

People are working from home and need the peace and tranquility to focus on their jobs.

Imagine being an essay writer, a programmer, or an accountant smart working from their homes. Would you be able to concentrate in a city that’s echoing every drilling machine from every construction site?

That’s why it’s essential to have noise cushioning areas in the urban setting.

Nature inspires people to exercise

exercising in green cities

Physical activity has a significant impact on mood and mental health. Exercise helps regulate hormones and enhance the immune system. Studies on green spaces found that natural outdoor environments attract people to exercise more.

Just a quick glimpse from the balcony towards a community park can spark up the wish to go out and work out. Contrarily, living in an industrial part of town with no green spaces can discourage an individual from exercising.

Final thoughts

The impact of green spaces on mental health in urban settings is substantial.

Some effects are influencing our mental health directly, while others indirectly. Urban nature helps control air and noise pollution while keeping cities cool. Green spaces inspire people to work out more often and give us hope through their natural color shades.

  • Guest Author

    Greener Ideal strives to help you live your life in more sustainable ways with green living tips, healthy recipes and commentary on the latest environment news. The views expressed by guest authors are their own and may not reflect those of Greener Ideal.

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