Next time you're feeling low, consider hugging a tree. Literally. A recent study found that those who have more access to trees are less likely to need antidepressants. These findings are prompting people in urban areas to petition for their towns to create more green spaces.
What is green space? Can open space areas be one of the best natural alternatives to antidepressants? Let's discuss these fascinating findings and share some tips on how to make your life a little greener.
What is Green Space?
Green space is an area that exhibits our natural environment. It's an open space area surrounded by vegetation, including grass, flowers, trees and shrubs.
Human-made public green spaces include a park, forest, hiking trail, or farm.
Some green spaces are natural, like local woodlands. Others can be human-made, such as gardens and parks.
How Green Spaces Improve Mood
The study on green space and urban residents followed 9,751 residents of Leipzig, Germany. Results found living within 100 meters of a high density of street trees "significantly reduced the probability of being prescribed antidepressants."
When we are upset, who do we turn to? Many of us turn to our mothers. Obviously, Mother Nature knows best. Let's discuss why some people might benefit from green spaces as natural alternatives for antidepressants.
Whether it's reading the news, checking our emails, or texting with a family member, we're always connected. Getting out into nature helps bring you back to yourself.
When you think about being on the go, you imagine yourself hitting the pavement. Large buildings and noisy people surround you.
It's a high sensory experience. You can almost hear the electricity buzzing around you.
Nature unplugs that electrical current. It quiets down car horns, loud voices, and cringe TikTok videos.
With access to green space, it's just you and Mother Earth. You're allowed to clear your busy mind so that you can experience your own thoughts.
Our autonomous nervous system is modulated by two divisions -- the sympathetic and parasympathetic.
While we work, experience stress, or get in a confrontation, it stimulates our sympathetic nervous system. That's our fight-or-flight instincts.
When we live such fast-paced lives, we always remain "on." These habits always keep the fight-or-flight switch slightly activated.
The parasympathetic nervous system is our rest and digest instincts. It's when we let our guard down, lower the production of stress hormones, and experience peace of mind.
A 2017 study found that the mere act of looking at a tree engages our parasympathetic nervous system! The sight of trees sends an autonomous message to the brain that we should become calm.
Subsequently, those who tree-watched experience:
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Slower Pulse Rates
- Calmer Breaths
- Digestive Fluid Production
- Improved Gut Motility
- Decreased Muscle
Scientists hypothesize that some of these benefits come from phytoncides. Phytoncides are organic compounds emitted from woodsy plants. In one Japanese study, continuous exposure to phytoncides has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression.
These essential oils have strong antimicrobial properties that support a healthy immune system. Even more reasons to get out hiking!
Greenspaces allow us room to breathe. We aren't surrounded by walls that behold us to obligations. Open space makes us feel less restricted, which creates less tension throughout the body.
Our daily lives are very rigid. I'm not just talking about our schedules. We are surrounded by fine lines everywhere!
Stairwells, buildings, and tables all have very particular structures. Scientists believe that staring at straight lines subconsciously creates a constriction within ourselves. We equate a stricter way of life with these clearly-defined shapes and straight lines.
In nature, all objects appear spatial. Leaves, trees, and grass blades come in varying sizes, shapes, and textures. There is more "freedom" in their designs that put us at ease.
Also, the designs of nature bring us back to our own roots. You can see a spiral-like design in everything from pinecones to flowers to our thumbprints.
This shape is known as the Fibonacci Sequence. Seeing it in nature and then on your own body helps ground you when you're feeling overwhelmed.
More Physical Activity
Experts also believe that going outdoors encourages more high-quality physical activity. Access to nature provides us an outlet to go on rigorous hikes in the woods or play kickball in the park field.
Exercise helps keep our bodies healthy. However, it promotes peace of mind, too.
Many people with anxiety and depression have built-up tension. It can manifest as nervous energy and can cause us to become impatient or lash out.
Exercise helps us channel that energy positively. We work out the anxiety, sweat out toxins, and produce feel-good endorphins.
Open space is an excellent way to get some exposure to the sun. Not only does fresh air and sun feel amazing, but it's our greatest source of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that is necessary for many physiological functions. When humans don't get enough Vitamin D, it can cause stress on the system.
In turn, you may exhibit anxious behaviors. That's why Tranquility Labs' Tranquilene Total Calm is fortified with Vitamin D.
Tranquilene is formulated to promote GABA and serotonin production. This all-natural supplement contains a spectrum of botanicals, essential vitamins, and mood-boosting minerals, such as Vitamin D.
Growing research also shows that Vitamin D has neuroprotective properties. It degrades enzymes that burn off essential neurotransmitters. Low levels of Vitamin D might impact brain function.
Over 41% of adults have a Vitamin D deficiency. A significant number of those with a Vitamin D deficiency have darker skin. These findings coincide with a rise in mental health issues for people of color.
Due to systemic issues, the average person in a low socio-economic bracket is a person of color. The study on urban green space and antidepressants noted that open spaces produced significant mental health improvements for people who have low socio-economic status.
We must maintain and create more open spaces, especially in cities. It is crucial for the health and well-being of our communities. Therefore, you might need to petition your city. Here are some tips.
How Open Spaces Provide Environmental Benefits to Urban Areas
We are living in a climate crisis. Every step we take can have a positive impact on global warming.
Working with the local urban planning committee to create a green space is an excellent way to give back to the community..and the environment.
Trees are great in combating air pollution. They improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Plus, trees and shrubs produce oxygen, which is highly beneficial to our breathing.
Higher oxygen levels can be helpful in these uncertain times, considering that COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system.
There has been a surge in emergency mental health issues since the pandemic started. It's a public health crisis.
Getting into an open space might put you in the right headspace to deal with these stressful uncertainties.
How to Create A Green Space?
Not all communities can have a green space. That doesn't mean you have to give up trying to create a safe space of your own. Here are some tips to improve your mental health using greenery!
Start A Garden
Studies show that gardening can improve your mood. Gardening creates a bond between the gardener and earth. You tend to the plants, get the joy of watching them grow, and experience the nourishment of their nutrients when eaten.
Not everyone has a yard for a garden. Try making one on your roof.
This type of green infrastructure is growing in popularity because it gets excellent sun and rain exposure.
Those who live in apartments might not be able to create a garden. There are still plenty of plants you can grow indoors.
Some of the best indoor vegetables include:
- Garlic Greens
- Green Beans
Make sure they're in a south-facing window and receive up to 12 hours of light per day. Sit with the plants as part of your light therapy routine!
Go for Walks Outside
Whether it's hiking or strolling around the block, go outside for walks more. Walking outside will help you get the necessary cardiovascular exercise your body requires.
An outdoor stroll also exposes you to the sun and fresh air. As we mentioned, you'll also inhale essential oils from trees that can boost your mood and immune system.
On your next vacation, ditch the big city tours. Instead, try including some day trips that involve mountain climbing, dirt biking, or trail hiking. A change in scenery might just be what your mind needs.
Listen to Calming Soundscapes
Nature isn't just about trees. It's also about its inhabitants.
Many people who live in cities miss out on the sounds of owls at night, ducks in the afternoon, or songbirds in the morning.
These are all soundtracks to a peaceful existence. Instead, millions hear honking horns, slamming doors, and chattering humans.
Studies show that listening to songbirds can impact our moods. One experiment monitored customers' satisfaction at a bank.
The bank played one genre of music and collected satisfaction scores. Then, they switched to birdsongs. The next collection of satisfaction scores increased from 64% to 90% in just six months!
Are Green Spaces Natural Alternatives to Antidepressants?
Antidepressants can cause anxiety. However, you shouldn't make any changes to your wellness routine without consulting a physician.
While green spaces are excellent for the community, environment, and you, there is no substitute for professional help. You can use urban green space therapy to better your mental health.
In some communities, you might need to convince urban planners to include more green spaces. Consider using Tranquility Labs' Tranquilene Total Calm as you petition.
This all-natural supplement helps calm anxious thoughts that arise when you undertake such noble causes. With Tranquilene and greenspaces, you'll be in the right headspace to become the change you wish to see in this world.
- Greenspaces are open spaces surrounded by grass, trees and shrubs
- Exposure to urban green spaces can improve mood
- While greenspace support a healthy mood, don’t stop taking antidepressants without a physician’s care
Cozy Golden Mylk
3 cups nondairy milk of choice- light coconut (in a can), almond, or oat work well
4 capsules Tranquility Labs turmeric, opened
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground cardamom
1 pinch finely ground black pepper
Sweetener of choice- honey or date syrup are great
Combine milk, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper in a saucepan. Simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes- it should be hot to the touch but not boiling. Whisk frequently. Take off the heat and add your sweetener to taste. Pour into two mugs and serve!
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