The importance of green spaces

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Luke Unger considers how getting out of the city and using green spaces can positively affect our mental wellbeing.

I stare out my bedroom window, a dull thumping sensation from last night echoing through my head like an alarm that won’t go off.

Surrounding myself with green selfishly for half an hour allows me to breathe and reset

Or perhaps it’s the noise of Whiteladies outside, cars going to and fro below my window like grey ants that omit tiny, incoherent roars through the rain stained road.

It’s time for a walk.

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Living around Whiteladies Road, I get to live ten minutes away from one of the greenest spaces in Bristol, the Downs. While it’s reputation is slightly iffy during the night time, during the day its reminds me why I love Bristol so much.

Green stretches for as far as the eye can see and envelops everything, the city fades away as you wander out into the grassy haven and the air feels a lot clearer. If you time your walk with the sunset, you get an absolutely stunning view of the gorge lit up with hues of red and orange.

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I would also highly recommend seeing the goats by the gulley. I mean come on… goats.

There’s something about going on a walk that’s so therapeutic. There have definitely been certain times in the year around exams when I felt like my head was going to explode with the pressure of the city. Surrounding myself with green selfishly for half an hour allows me to breathe and reset.

Perhaps it’s something to do with the simplicity of the horizon, or perhaps it’s the quiet. Whatever reason, it works.

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Epigram / Leila Mitwally

Considering that the colour green is the most calming for the human brain, it seems logical that green spaces are a perfect space to clear your head. I feel there needs to be more encouragement to get out of the city and out into these spaces which surround Bristol.

I’m sure we’ve all had it when you get back from a walk feeling amazing, relaxed and clear headed. Bristol students, whether you know it or not, you are in one of the largest cities which also has perhaps some of the most easily accessible wildlife in the country.

Life is only complicated if you let it be

Places I could recommend going certainly would include: the Downs, Abbott Pool, Cheddar Gorge, Troopers Hill Nature Reserve, Leigh Woods, Oldbury Court and Snuff Mills, Ashton Court and so many more - but there’s a few to get started.

With the pressures of exams, relationships, money, getting out into the countryside seems imperative to having a healthy mind. Research from Stanford University has shown that ‘accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world’, further stating ‘Our findings can help inform the growing movement worldwide to make cities more liveable, and to make nature more accessible to all who live in them’.

The study also proposes that ‘city dwellers have a 20 percent higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 40 percent higher risk of mood disorders as compared to people in rural areas. People born and raised in cities are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia.’

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Certainly, mental health should not exclusively be treated with the prescription of country walks, but we should definitely allot a certain amount of time per week to get out of the city, whether its going to a park or somewhere more adventurous.

So, put on your shoes, grab a coat, leave your phone, maybe bring a banana if you get peckish and go for a walk. Life is only complicated if you let it be.

Featured image: Epigram / Leila Mitwally


Do you think using green spaces positively affects your mindset? Comment below or get in touch!

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