Green space reduces stress
By Liz Lockhart
Several mental health disorders may be helped by the presence of green spaces in economically deprived areas. Disorders such as post-traumatic stress, chronic fatigue and anxiety along with the stress of job losses may benefit from the proximity of parks and woodland, according to a new study.
The research was led by the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt’s OPENspace research centre in conjunction with the Universities of Glasgow and Westminster. The study findings are published in the journal ‘Landscape and Urban Planning’.
In the study it was found that people’s stress levels are directly related to the amount of green space in their direct surroundings. The more green space surrounds them the less stressed a person is likely to be.
Saliva samples were taken from a group of people, aged between 35 and 55, to assess stress by measuring levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone which is released in response to stress. It was found that if the surrounding area had less than 30% green space, its population had unhealthy levels of cortisol.
It was also found that for every 1% increase in green space there was a decline in stress levels at a corresponding level. The researchers said that where there is more green space, people tend to respond better to disruptive events, either by not getting as stressed in the first place or by coping better.
The researchers note that the study participants were also asked to self-rate their stress levels and the results directly related to the percentage of local green space. In other words, the more green space, the lower the levels of self-reported stress.
Source: University of Edinburgh