BLOG: World Mental Health Day - Trees for health and happiness

9 October 2019

Ahead of World Mental Health Day we want to celebrate the importance of nature, trees woods and wildlife to boosting our mental wellbeing.

World Mental Health Day, which takes place on 10 October, is a day for global mental health education and awareness.

At City of Trees we know how being outside, whatever the weather, can make you feel healthier and happier. And there is a wealth of evidence demonstrating this crucial link.

Humans are hardwired for nature

Biophilia is a term popularized by American biologist Edward O Wilson in the 1980’s and is the idea that as people we have an innate connection to the natural world, built up through hundreds of thousands of years.

The term is now increasingly used in the built environment sector – a ‘biophilic design’ approach is being taken by many developers – incorporating elements of nature into both indoor and outdoor spaces.

So how can this approach help? Research has demonstrated that this method can help to reduce stress, blood pressure levels and heart rates, whilst increasing productivity, creativity and self-reported rates of well-being.

 

Woods for wellbeing

As well as incorporating green into new developments, people can appreciate our existing natural spaces.

Trees, woods, parks and gardens can all provide an uplift to mental wellbeing.

A 2014 University of Exeter study found that overall people living in greener urban areas were displaying fewer signs of depression or anxiety.

Visiting forests and woodland can also improve mood and attention span, and even enhance psychological stress recovery.

Walking among trees reduces levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, and can boost the immune system through breathing in phytoncides, which trees emit to protect themselves from germs and insects.

Forest bathing

Some people even take this concept further with forest bathing or shinrin-yoku, which was developed in the 1980s in Japan.

Inspired by research on the benefits of taking walks and time out in nature, the Japanese government incorporated forest bathing into the country’s health programme.

Dr Qing Li president of the Society for Forest Medicine in Japan, and the author of Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing believes we are designed to be connected to the natural world, to “listen to the wind and taste the air”.

 

It’s time to go green

If you would like to experience Greater Manchester’s great outdoors check out our events page and come along to one of our conservation, tree-LC or planting events - https://www.cityoftrees.org.uk/events

Why not get your company involved in supporting our work – from joining the 100 Trees Club, making a donation or getting muddy with employee volunteering https://www.cityoftrees.org.uk/corporate-support

Professional working in the field? We’re also hosting a seminar on Green Infrastructure, Health and Wellbeing on 17 October. Find out more - https://www.cityoftrees.org.uk/event/role-green-infrastructure-gi-create-healthy-resilient-cities

Tweet us your thoughts @cityoftreesmcr or send us your snaps of your favourite Greater Manchester trees and woods that bring you both health and happiness using #cityoftreesphoto