The latest research confirms that green spaces are essential for our psychological well-being. Frances “Ming” Kuo (University of Illinois) has studied a wide range of research from the last decade. She concludes that in areas with good access to green spaces “people are more generous and more sociable. We find stronger neighborhood social ties and greater sense of community, more mutual trust and willingness to help others”.
Being in the natural environment provides many other benefits, including:
- better cognitive functioning
- more self-discipline
- improved immune system.
Conversely, people living in areas where there isn’t much natural space suffer in all kinds of ways. There’s
- more attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- higher rates of anxiety
- higher rates of clinical depression.
Of course deprived areas with less green space suffer poorer health for lots of reasons. Researchers have accounted for those factors and it’s very clear that access to green space is fundamental to community health.
All this bears out the underlying theme of this blog: Many of our cognitive processes are intimately bound up where we are. Understanding the importance of the bodymind isn’t enough; we must consider the intricate system that is the situated bodymind.