How immersing yourself in green spaces can have positive health benefits
Yesterday I played golf – the first time in 9 weeks. Weirdly, I felt safe – credit due to my golf club’s excellent planning – and yes, I felt hugely advantaged to return to a favourite activity. Amidst our shared uncertainty in relaxing the lockdown, to play was liberating and reassuring – both novel and familiar. Yet it was more than a reconnection. I was immersed in green.
After all this time, the many trees that line the course were now in full leaf – in stark contrast to the bareness of winter. And the flowering shrubs and borders were verdant, with the fairways and ‘greens’ like smooth, lush carpets. It heightened my awareness of the positive impact a colour can have, in its varying tones and shades. We know through colour psychology the positives associated with green – harmony, balance, calm, restoration, equilibrium, peace. For me, this colour immersion fostered a sense of renewal and was nothing short of uplifting.
In the context of Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May 2020), three thoughts emerge
- It’s well documented that spending time in green spaces has been linked with people feeling healthier and happier. A study in the New_Scientist (2019) reported that individuals who spent more than 2 hours outdoors in nature had consistently higher health and well-being levels compared to those who spent less or no time.
Interestingly, for those of us less inclined, you don’t have to be walking or running even – just sitting in nature also has its health benefits. It doesn’t need to be in one go either – you can spread the time out, say, over a week.
- The game of golf isn’t, to use that 1970s slogan, a ‘Sport for All’. Golf is an expensive pursuit in terms of time and money and as a result often (and rightly) perceived as exclusive. That said, the course I play on is open to the public to walk, and with their dogs, at any time of day. This sharing of an open, outdoor space works surprisingly well, where walkers and golfers alike remain mindful of each other.
Perhaps this model could be extended to other open, yet private spaces, given the benefits of being in green?
- From a coaching perspective, we know that our surroundings can help us re-frame our thinking and how we’re feeling, even broaden and deepen our understanding. How we can become more creative by being in a wide, open space. And, because our senses are stimulated by our surroundings, we become more attuned to what’s really going on within ourselves. If you’re interested in knowing more about coaching in the outdoors with me, please see: https://llewellyncoaching.co.uk/coaching-services/
Now we can go outside to exercise for longer, why not try two hours or more – sitting, walking, cycling, even playing golf. And if you can, make it green!