Visit the forest outside your door

By Olivia Witthun, DNR regional urban forestry coordinator, Plymouth, Olivia.Witthun@wisconsin.gov, 414-750-8744

Are you going stir-crazy stuck inside your house or apartment?   Take a visit to the forest outside your door!  Step outside to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the trees and nature around you.  It’s good for your mind, body and soul.  Research shows exposure to nature reduces depression, anxiety and stress!  Plus, we all know physical activity keeps your body healthy and boosts your mood. 

Eighty percent of American adults are afflicted by stress.  Forty million are affected by anxiety disorders, and nearly sixteen million experience major depression each year. If you live in the city, those numbers are even higher. Urban dwellers have a 20% higher risk for developing anxiety disorders, 40% for mood disorders and double for schizophrenia.  Stress has become a constant in people’s everyday lives, and the COVID-19 just adds even more.  The cumulative effects of chronic stress can have serious health consequences over time, including: depression, anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic pain and type 2 diabetes. 

Looking for a simple solution? Researchers have repeatedly found evidence for improved mental health with exposure to nature. Trees and green environments support relaxation and reduce stress. This improves overall metal health, mood and life function. There’s an economic advantage too, reduced treatment costs and improved worker productivity. It is a wonderful gift from mother nature!

So, put on a coat, get outside and enjoy the relaxation and restorative effects of trees and nature.

For more information and links to published research, visit human health in the Vibrant Cities Lab or Urban Nature for Human Health and Well-being.

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