Green spaces & Social Prescribing

“Everyone needs a ‘Natural Health Service’ as well as a National Health Service” (Sir Muir Gray, British physician)

‘Nurturing your own health and wellbeing - being outdoors and experiencing local wildlife can have a calming effect and instantly make you feel refreshed!’ (The Wildlife Trusts)

‘Spending time in the garden (or any green space) can have a noticeable effect on mental health and wellbeing; it can help reduce stress, anxiety and help ease symptoms of depression’

It is well known and understood that the great outdoors benefits our physical health, but it is also now increasingly recognised that spending time in parks, gardens, woodlands and other green spaces can also have a noticeable effect on mental health and wellbeing; it can help reduce stress and anxiety and help ease symptoms of depression. Whilst many will be familiar with the requirement for 150 mins physical activity a week, there is also significant evidence that exposure to nature for at least 120 mins per week is a key factor in maintaining positive mental health.

 ‘Spending time in the natural environment – as a resident or a visitor – improves our mental health and feelings of wellbeing. It can reduce stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression. It can help boost immune systems, encourage physical activity and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as asthma. It can combat loneliness and bind communities together’.

The natural environment holds an array of hidden powers. The influence that the great outdoors can have on our mental wellbeing in particular should be recognised and celebrated. Studies have shown a link between access to green space and reduced levels of stress. Those individuals that are lucky enough to live close to green space in urban areas, have been found to experience lower rates of anxiety. Having an indirect interaction with nature, such as viewing trees or countryside through windows, have been associated with lower blood pressure. Simply having views of trees, plants and shrubs from a hospital window can decrease patient recovery time and similarly for employees – whether that’s in the office or working from home – these views can increase employee wellbeing.

It’s not just the physiological effects of exercise, such as the release of endorphins, dopamine and serotonin that cause these responses, studies have shown that regular use of woods or parks for exercise reduces the risk of poor mental health, whereas no such pattern was found in non-natural settings like gyms.

So, just taking time to notice nature can have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing. A National Trust report found that ‘Nature connectedness’ was a significant predictor of ‘life being worthwhile’ and of happiness for adults, and that children with a strong connection to nature are happier. The National Trust has a page with suggested ways to connect to nature, including a week-by-week guide to doing so.

Social Prescribing

Recognising that people’s health and wellbeing are determined by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, Social Prescribing address people’s needs in a holistic way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health.  It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health.

At Wesport, we are supporting 5 Physical Activity Link Worker roles across Bristol and South Gloucestershire with the aim of improving health and wellbeing outcomes for residents through movement, physical activity, and sport.   The Physical activity link workers are there to support individuals starting their journey into exercise and movement as well as providing the link between community organisations and the health system.  The Physical Activity Link Workers provide signposting, guidance and support into a wide range of movement and physical activities for everyone, helping individuals to improve their physical and mental health, and gently building communities and support networks.

For more information on the Physical Activity Social Prescribing project email ali.chodkiewicz@wesport.org.uk.

 

 

Inspiration, information & ideas

Here you will find a multitude of websites that you can visit for inspiration, ideas and information on where, how and different ways you can enjoy the array of green spaces, parks, gardens, woodlands and countryside has to offer.

Parks, Woodlands and Green Spaces

The Parks Team in each Council work extremely hard to create spaces for you to nurture personal connections, create special memories, and improve your wellbeing. To find out more information on the important work that the Parks Teams do, please visit: