Extensive research has shown that regular access to green spaces can reduce hypertension; respiratory tract and cardiovascular illnesses; stress and anxiety; it can also improve concentration and mood and even increase life satisfaction and happiness. Across the country Health professionals, Social Prescribing Link Workers and the Care Network wellbeing team are increasingly recommending that being outdoors, in the garden, the local park, anywhere natural, can be hugely beneficial for your health.
A project in England from the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, called Prescribing Green Space, found that six to eight months after receiving a ‘green prescription’ – where people are encouraged to help plant forests and spend time in local green spaces – 63 per cent of patients were more active and 46 per cent had lost weight.
Being outdoors in nature is not just about increasing activity, but being out anywhere where you can connect to and really notice the natural world, particularly now that the weather is improving and spring is underway, links very significantly to one of the five ways to wellbeing: noticing. The key is to try to switch off from your worries and day to day stressors and really notice what is going on around you: listen to the birdsong; appreciate the bright green shoots emerging from the soil and appearing on the trees and shrubs; feel the sun, wind or rain on your skin; smell the flowers, the soil and freshly mown grass; touch the leaves, the bark, the earth. It really can be a tonic after the winter months.
The beauty of a green prescription is that you can prescribe it for yourself (and to your family and friends) to help improve overall health and mood. It would be good for us all to try and make time every day to be out in and noticing nature. Enjoy.
Kate Blackwell, Senior Coordinator for Wellbeing, March 2020