How Green Spaces Can Help Combat Depression
May 14, 2018 (3 months ago)
Nature’s beauty is a healing power of our world. Even photographs of nature have been shown to improve mood, meaning that the real deal has even more palpable advantages for our mental health.
Studies have proven that those who live in rural areas or near large green spaces exhibit a significantly lower propensity to mental health issues than people who live in urban areas. urbanites. If you are a city-dweller occasionally challenged with depression, keep reading to discover five reasons why green spaces are so good at improving moods and how you can best incorporate greenery into your daily life.
Our biology responds positively to nature
Ever heard about the biophilia hypothesis? This evolutionary hypothesis supposes that people have an inbuilt propensity for natural environments and green spaces, meaning that when we humans are immersed in nature, we’re at our biological zenith – our peak happiness. This applies to children, teens, and adults: research has proven that proximity to areas rich in natural vegetation correlates to lower levels of depressed and anxious people.
Green spaces give you space to breathe
Our modern lifestyle is, in many ways, unnatural. We drive to work, we sit inside looking at a screen for an average of 9 hours per day; we then drive back to homes, having often seen nothing other than four walls and crowded motorways the whole day long. Who wouldn’t be depressed if that was the extent of their everyday reality?
If mundane everyday urban life is getting you down, seek some natural wonder. Even cities have green parks, reserves and rural bushwalks – get out and find your favourite fun or quiet outdoor spot.
Nature is the perfect companion
If you feel depressed, you may need to find some quiet time alone to gather your thoughts. Enter nature: plants and trees are silent living creatures. Listening to the gentle rustle of leaves falling and waving in the wind can be soothing after a challenging day. Nature doesn’t judge your mental health, reduce your problems, or worsen them – it’s just there, and sometimes a quiet, still moment outside is enough to bring you comfort.
Nurturing nature equals nurturing ourselves
Looking after something else can allow us to do the same for ourselves. In other words, by cultivating your own plants, you might rediscover some essential elements of human self-care. If you’re unable to leave your home for a time, you can cultivate a mood-lifting green space inside with the help of an indoor grow tent. You’d be surprised at how much meaning and routine even a few beautiful plants can reintroduce back into your life.
The natural world helps to simplify ours
Perspective is one of the best treatments for depression. If you find yourself getting increasingly hung up on worldly woes, nature can remind you of what values you really hold dear. You might find that once you’ve shaved away the dross of your modern duties and responsibilities, you can more clearly glimpse what makes you most happy and hopeful.
Nature costs nothing to enjoy and has been here for far longer than any one person. Green spaces serve remind all of us that, just like the natural world, we are single organisms in a much larger cycle, and we too will grow and endure in one form or another. Spending time with nature and realising these encouraging facts about our own longevity and durability is a great way to feel recharged and refreshed after a bout of depression – akin to true ecotherapy for the soul.
Harper Reid is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand who is passionate about nature and the outdoors. When she’s not hiking and camping with friends, you’ll find her spending hours in her garden. Check out more of her work on Tumblr.