If you have work-related stress, then taking a stroll in green spaces may help you in improving your mental health and managing stress, a new study suggests. The study, published in the journal Public Health in Practice, also indicated that people with a strong “sense of coherence” (SOC) have greater resilience to stress.
“Our study suggests that taking a walk at least once a week in a forest or green space can help people have stronger SOC,” said the researcher, Shinichiro Sasahara, Professor at the University of Tsukuba in Japan.
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“Forest/green spacewalking is a simple activity that needs no special equipment or training. It could be a very good habit for improving mental health and managing stress,” Sasahara added. For the study, the research team analyzed workers’ SOC scores, demographic attributes, and their forest/green space walking habits.
SOC comprises the triad of meaningfulness (finding a sense of meaning in life), comprehensibility (recognizing and understanding stress), and manageability (feeling equipped to deal with stress). The study used survey data on more than 6,000 workers between 20 and 60 years old. It found stronger SOC among people who regularly took walks in forests or green spaces.
The researchers divided the survey respondents into four groups based on their frequency of forest/green spacewalking. Then, they compared their walking activity against attributes such as age, income, and marital status, and with the respondents’ SOC scores, which were grouped as weak, middle, and strong.
Those with a strong Sense of Coherence showed a significant correlation with both forest and green spacewalking at least once a week. This key finding implies the greater benefits of urban greening–not just environmental, but also socioeconomic. “SOC indicates mental capacities for realizing and dealing with stress,” Sasahara said. “With workplace stress as a focal issue, there’s a clear benefit in identifying everyday activities that raise SOC. It seems we may have found one,” the researcher added. (IANS)