Got the blues? Head for some green spaces

green.jpeg

(Jeremy Cai, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Sean Fleming, Senior Writer, Formative Content


Feeling down? Something as simple as a visit to your nearest park could perk you up with long-lasting positive effects on your mood, according to new research from the British Ecological Society and the University of Vermont.

For three months, a team from the University of Vermont studied hundreds of tweets every day and ran them through its sentiment analysis tool, Hedonometer. The tool rates words on their representative happiness, awarding each word it scrutinises a score. That enables it to estimate how happy Twitter users are at any given time.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the future of cities?

Cities represent humanity’s greatest achievements – and greatest challenges. From inequality to air pollution, poorly designed cities are feeling the strain as 68% of humanity is predicted to live in urban areas by 2050.

The World Economic Forum supports a number of projects designed to make cities cleaner, greener and more inclusive.

These include hosting the Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization, which gathers bright ideas from around the world to inspire city leaders, and running the Future of Urban Development and Services initiative. The latter focuses on how themes such as the circular economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution can be harnessed to create better cities.

In this case, it looked at how people were tweeting from 160 parks in San Francisco and concluded that people used more upbeat words when surrounded by trees and greenery.

Perhaps more surprisingly, they carried on tweeting happy thoughts for several hours after they’d left the park.

A new type of medicine

The latest study chimes with earlier research which shows that just two hours a week spent outside, surrounded by nature can be enough to improve your sense of wellbeing.

The physical and mental health benefits of connecting with nature is now being widely recognised. In Scotland, NHS Shetland has collaborated with wildlife charity the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, on a programme of nature prescriptions. The suggestions include:

  • Borrow a dog and take it for a walk
  • Touch the sea
  • Make a bug hotel
  • Bury your face in the grass
  • Pick two different kinds of grass and really look at them

The soothing effects of the great outdoors are well documented. Harvard Medical School reports that time spent outside can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression: “The calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body’s fight-or-flight response.”

That might go some way to explaining why people from the Nordic nations are some of the happiest in the world. Getting out and about in the great outdoors and spending time surrounded by nature is such an important part of Nordic life that it even has a name – friluftsliv, which translates as open-air living.

From smiling Swedes to delighted Danes, could time spent in nature explain Nordic happiness?
Image: Statista

In addition, researchers from MIT have analysed possible links between air pollution and mood and found that “higher levels of pollution are associated with a decrease in people’s happiness levels.” They too fell back on social media activity, overlaying the sentiments of 210 million geotagged posts from Sina Weibo with daily air quality readings released by China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection.

“Pollution also has an emotional cost,” according to Xiaonan Zhang of Tsinghua University in Beijing. “People are unhappy, and that means they may make irrational decisions.”

When compared with the findings of the San Francisco study, the contrast could hardly be starker. “Across all the tweets, people are happier in parks. But the effect was stronger in large parks with extensive tree cover and vegetation,” explains research lead Aaron Schwartz.

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

2014 budget: The EU may prove unable to agree on own resources

‘Deteriorating’ human rights in Belarus amounts to ‘wholescale oppression’: UN expert

How to bring precision medicine into the doctor’s office

Venezuelan crisis: MEPs reaffirm their support for Juan Guaidó

China-EU Summit on 16-17 July 2018: “Work together to address common challenges”, by China’s Ambassador to the EU

This app uses augmented reality to rewrite ‘herstory’

Facebook changes its terms and clarify its use of data for consumers following discussions with the European Commission and consumer authorities

Greece’s Tsipras: Risking country and Eurozone or securing an extra argument for creditors?

EU to lead one more fight against climate change at G7 summit

EU-US Trade: European Commission endorses rebalancing duties on US products

Despite violence, ‘tremendous hunger’ for peace in Afghanistan: top UN official

A ship with containers at the port of Rotterdam. (Copyright: European Union. Source: EC - Audiovisual Service. Photo: Robert Meerding)

US follows the EU in impeding China market economy status in WTO

Nokia wins Commission’s approval for Alcatel-Lucent acquisition: a new way for antitrust cases?

More solidarity and interaction between generations needed to challenge age stereotypes and ingrained ageism

Make no mistake: the purpose of business is to serve society

Top UN court orders Myanmar to protect Rohingya from genocide

India’s economy is an ‘elephant that is starting to run’, according to the IMF

The scheming of Boris: win an election after a no-deal Brexit

A conceptual approach to Violence Against Healthcare in Turkey from SDG’s

Seaweed, enzymes and compostable cups: Can ‘Big Food’ take on plastic and win?

Environment Committee MEPs vote to upgrade EU civil protection capacity

Meeting of top scientists underway to slow coronavirus spread

Young people all over the world come together to demand paid good quality internships

The children’s continent: keeping up with Africa’s growth

UN Chief says ending poverty ‘a question of justice’ on International Day

How India’s new consumers can contribute to a $6 trillion opportunity

Multilateralism’s ‘proven record of service’ is focus of first-ever International Day

Century challenge: inclusion of immigrants in the health system

Humanitarian emergency in Venezuela was central debate of the EuroLat plenary

Promoting Primary Health Care to the Young Health Workforce: a new approach

Fighting for minds of youth in Latvia

Strawberries and child support; a Thai partnership

Guinea-Bissau: Upcoming elections vital to prevent ‘relapse’ into instability, says UN envoy

Earth has more trees than it did 35 years ago – but there’s a huge catch

Here’s how to help India’s rural population go digital

Q&A on the 19th China-EU Summit to be held on 01-02 June 2017 in Brussels

MEPs demand an end to migrant deaths across the Mediterranean Sea

Trade is not a weapon. Let’s not use it as one

One third of poorer countries face both undernutrition and obesity: WHO report

At epicentre of Indonesia disaster, Guterres praises resilience of Sulawesi people

Encouraging progress made in 2018, in ‘zero tolerance’ effort to end sexual exploitation and abuse across UN

Two days left until General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), lots of newsletter opt-outs but does the EU citizen really know?

European Business Summit 2013: Where Business and Politics shape the future

EU Commission announces Safe Harbour 2.0 and a wider Data protection reform

“What a Wonderful World”: the unsettled relationship between Climate Change and Human Health

The influence of the multilateral agreement on migrant health

Across the world, women outlive men. This is why

German stock market is not affected by the Greek debt revolution while Athens is running out of time

How women in developing countries can harness e-commerce

Here’s how tech can help governments fight corruption

What is the Coral Triangle?

UN and African Union in ‘common battle’ for development and climate change financing

The Council of Europe adopts Recommendation on young people’s access to rights

The Europeans with a job diminish dangerously

A new way to teach active citizenship to students?

Senior UN officials call for return to sea rescues, after ‘the worst Mediterranean tragedy of this year’

If you live in a big city you already smoke every day

Coronavirus: Commission stands ready to continue supporting EU’s agri-food sector

‘Eco-shaming’ is on the rise, but does it work?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s