Green and blue is good for you!
Intuitively we know that being in nature makes us feel better. And more and more studies are coming to the same conclusions: we depend on the natural world for much more than water, food and materials to build with.
Being in nature is good for our health and wellbeing. Or, if we wanted to talk to our children about it: being in green and blue is good for you.
Studies find that being able to get to green space reduces stress and anxiety for many people. Whether it’s due to physical exercise associated with being outside, unplugging from over-stimulating technologies or boosting our sensory awareness of the natural world around us, our minds find nature restorative.
While going for a hike or sitting in the park is certainly not the answer to all mental health issues, it can certainly be part of a toolkit to help lift moods.
For children, being in nature gives them the chance to develop their creativity, risk-taking, problem solving and empathy. The freedom that being outside offers, and the opportunity for play, enables these aptitudes to develop naturally. And they’re all wonderful skills that aren’t always top of the curriculum.
Being near green may also affect your longevity: research by the Harvard School of Public Health found that women living in the greenest areas included in their study were 34% less likely to die from respiratory disorders, even accounting for other socio-economic factors. Which makes sense – greenery can help absorb harmful air pollution.
What’s more recent is the focus on blue, or access to water-based landscapes. A recent study in The Netherlands found that ‘blue space availability’ - whether you are close to salt or freshwater - had an even stronger relationship with positive health, both physical and mental.
What’s interesting is that you don’t have to be in the wilderness to experience these benefits, you just need to be able to access blue and green outdoor landscapes relatively easily. That means making good use of the parks, open spaces, allotments, rivers and canals that you can get to.
It’s also possible to bring the green and blue effect indoors – research found that having plants in the office environment reduced absenteeism, improved satisfaction and efficiency and improved the cognitive function when studying. So it’s worth looking after your houseplants too!
But however you do it, the messages are clear: it’s important to get nature in your life.
David Suzuki, a Canadian researcher, has set up a foundation to encourage more people to spend time outdoors everyday. The 30 x 30 challenge invites you to get outside every day for a month, for at least 30 minutes. People all over the world have signed up to participate. If you’ve not yet decided on your Kozi Kidz outdoor challenge for the year, this might be a good one!