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Healthy Yard, Healthier Family

Father and sons playingIf you love your yard, you won’t be surprised to learn that that green spaces are scientifically proven to be beneficial. Really, it’s just common sense. Of course it’s good for you if it’s something that makes you happy! But you’ll probably be surprised to hear about the powerful effects of green spaces on the mental and physical health of you and your loved ones. Did you know it might be able to make your kids perform better in school, and even improve the relationships between you and your spouse?

Greenery Improves Mental Health

The most obvious and intuitive positive effect of greenery is the way that it lowers stress levels. Studies have found that even just looking at greenery lowers blood pressure and heart rate. It’s a subconscious signal that we have what we need for survival when plants are present and thriving. Further studies have found that being in green spaces soothes the mind, relieving mental fatigue and getting us out of cyclical negative thinking that perpetuates depression. It seems that being in greenery catches our attention and directs it outward instead, encouraging us to note and enjoy the movement and lines of trees, leaves, streams, and animals.

Exposure to Plants Improves Cognition

If plants can relieve symptoms of depression, then it’s not a hard jump to see how they can improve cognition and memory. Studies have found that office workers near indoor plants were more productive and optimistic while working. Being around greenery improves memory and boosts creativity, perhaps exactly because of its ability to jog us out of cyclical thinking and improve our mood.

Trees Create More Harmonious Relationships

One notable study found that there could be a direct link between trees (and other natural elements) and family or community harmony. In 2001, a survey of families in a public housing community in Chicago found that families who were randomly assigned to units closer to trees and green spaces reported less interpersonal conflict. This was an interesting case study because, since placement was randomly assigned, it was possible to eliminate a lot of variables that could be another underlying reason for less conflict.

So, keep that garden looking green and healthy. Incorporate elements like fire pits and pergolas that create wonderful outdoor living spaces in order to encourage people to spend time outside. And don’t be surprised when time spent in your back yard makes your family happier and healthier.