24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825
Fax: (361)578-5500

Wellness and Personal Development
Resources
Basic InformationLatest News
New Clues Show How Stress May Turn Your Hair GrayHealth Tip: Warning Signs of Drowsy DrivingAHA News: Can Social Media Be Good for Your Health?Sunscreen Chemicals Absorbed Into Body, Study FindsCould a Switch to Skim Milk Add Years to Your Life?Many Americans Are Inactive, With Southerners Faring WorseWhy Tidying Up Is Sometimes Harder Than ExpectedProbiotics: Don't Buy the Online HypePot-Using Drivers Still Impaired After the High Fades'Burnout' Could Raise Your Odds for A-fibHealth Tip: Healthier Ways to Use Social MediaMany Americans Sleep More in WinterProcessed Foods Are Making Americans ObeseSo Long, 98.6: Average Human Body Temperature Is DroppingHow Does Missed Sleep Affect Your Appetite?New Year's Resolutions Didn't Stick? Try a Monday ResetHealth Tip: Is Worrying Out of Control?Tips to Keep New Year's ResolutionsAHA News: Get Started on the Path to Better Health in the New YearYoga May Bring a Brain Boost, Review ShowsSome Solid Advice on New Year's Resolutions That Might StickFestive Foods Can Leave Those on Restricted Diets Out in the ColdGet Ready for the Sleepiest Day of the YearYour TV, Smartphone Screens May Send Toxins Into Your HomeHealth Tip: Resolutions for a Healthier New YearDo Your Heart a Favor: Bike, Walk to WorkRegular Exercise Cuts Odds for 7 Major CancersHow to Stay Fit When You're Traveling for Work or FunDespite Danger, Tanning Beds Still a Fixture in Many GymsAHA News: Are You Drinking Enough During Winter Months?Unhealthy Eating Habits Cost U.S. $50 Billion a Year: StudyHeart Risks in Your Genes? Be Sure to Get Your ZzzsAHA News: How to Enjoy the Flavors of the Season Without Derailing HealthSlow Down and Enjoy a Safe ChristmasHealth Tip: Waking Up Without CaffeineSleeping Too Long Might Raise Stroke RiskAHA News: Cold Heart Facts: Why You Need to Watch Out in WinterHave a Purpose, Have a Healthier LifeAn 'Epidemic of Loneliness' in America? Maybe NotHealth Tip: The Importance of HydrationHealthy Lifestyle, Regular Screening May Keep Cancer at BayBPA Levels in Humans Are Underestimated: StudyHow Well Are You Aging? A Blood Test Might TellDistracted by Their Smartphones, Pedestrians Are Landing in the ERAntarctic Study Shows Isolation, Monotony May Change the Human BrainAre E-Scooters a Quick Ticket to the ER?Sleep Deprivation a Big Drain on the BrainLife Expectancy Shrinks for America's Working-Age AdultsHitting the Highway This Holiday Season? Buckle Up in Front and BackAHA News: Regular Fasting Could Lead to Longer, Healthier Life
Links
Related Topics

Anger Management
Stress Reduction and Management

City Parks Are a Mood Booster

HealthDay News
by By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Aug 20th 2019

new article illustration

TUESDAY, Aug. 20, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Living in the city can be hard on the senses and the spirit, but spending some time in a tree-lined park could counteract that stress, new research suggests.

"Over a three-month period, we collected tweets from 4,688 Twitter users before, during and after they posted from the park," explained study author Aaron Schwartz. He's a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Vermont's school of environment and natural resources and the Gund Institute for Environment.

All of the 160 parks that were visited in the study were located in the city of San Francisco.

About 100,000 tweets were analyzed by a hedonometer, a kind of online happiness dictionary that ranks words according to their happiness content. Tweeting "jail," for example, would bank a score of less than 2, while a tweet of "hahaha" would render a score nearly 8.

After comparing pre-park tweets to post-park tweets, the study authors concluded that parks trigger a mood bump equivalent to that seen at Christmas, the day hedonometer happiness levels hit their peak.

The team didn't track how long participants spent in parks, so they can't say how short a visit might trigger a mood change.

And some parks turned out to be better mood boosters than others.

Large regional parks with lots of tree cover and vegetation conferred the biggest happiness lift, while paved urban plazas offered the least benefit. Smaller neighborhood parks fell somewhere in the middle.

Why? For one, bigger parks may lend themselves to activities not possible in smaller parks, such as BBQs or longer quiet walks, said Schwartz.

"These parks might also offer a greater separation for disconnecting from the stressful urban environment due to their size," he added. Larger parks also expose visitors to "higher levels of biodiversity, which has been shown to lead to improved mood as well."

Still, happiness increases were seen across the board, regardless of park type. And once happiness levels went up, they stayed up for one to four hours.

As to what explains the park-happiness connection, the team said it's hard to say for sure, and they still can't be sure that one actually causes the other. Nor is it clear that Twitter users are representative of everyone.

But the authors did observe that negative language fell off just after a visit to a park, as did the tweeted use of first-person words, such as "I" or "me." Both suggest a shift in mental focus towards a more positive and more collective mindset.

The finding was published Aug. 20 in the journal People and Nature.

Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and professor emeritus at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, said she thinks that "most people don't know that their unconscious mind is craving nature."

Yarrow pointed out that "there is a lot of research to support that being in nature, even just around plants, makes us happy."

Why? "It's likely to be related to better quality air, the mental and emotional arousal of visual beauty, and our very fundamental human need to be part of nature," said Yarrow. "What we perceive as happiness when we're in an urban park is also likely to be more powerful today than in previous decades, because it is a relief from the sterility of our increasingly digital lives."

And that's not gone unnoticed by those who've grown up in the digital age, she observed. "There's a giant movement going on right now among millennials," she said. "They're filling their offices and homes with plants to promote well-being and stress reduction."

Yarrow's take: if the goal is to promote happier, healthier and more connected communities, "for sure, city planners would benefit from taking this research to heart."

Schwartz agreed.

"Any efforts to 'green our cities' will provide not only mental benefits," he said, "but potentially a variety of other ecosystem services that benefit urban residents and nature alike. For example, greenery can soak up carbon emissions, reduce air pollution and provide habitat for species. More and more people are living in cities each year, and providing them with opportunities to engage with nature is critical for well-being."

More information

For more on the connection between being outdoors and health, visit Harvard Medical School.