THE LEAFLET

May 24, 2021 /
Jona Elwell

Closing Out Mental Health Month with Ideas for Tree-Based Breaks

Since 1949, May has been observed as Mental Health Month – as an effort to promote awareness and education around mental illnesses and the 18.1% of Americans who suffer from them.

Additionally, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas and that proportion is projected to increase to 70 percent by 2050. Despite many benefits of urbanization, studies show that the mental health of urban dwellers can be negatively affected by their city environment. Finding that bit of green space in cities or spending time in nature visiting rural areas may do more than provide a temporary escape from concrete, steel and glass – it boosts your mental state and helps out your health.

So how much time with nature is enough to get these intended benefits? “Anything from 20 to 30 minutes, three days a week, to regular three-day weekends in the woods is helpful,” says Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance Dr. Strauss. “The point is to make your interactions a part of your normal lifestyle.”

While we’re not professionals, we’re recommending what we always do: enjoy nature (even if it is just in your yard or online!). The literal benefits of nature and being outdoors on your mental state can truly work wonders. 

Here are a few ways we recommend safely enjoying nature:

  1. Plan a  blossom filled tree walk with our DC Blossoming Trees Map! This map highlights blooming trees that we and/or the Urban Forestry Division of DDOT have planted.
  2. Curious about the trees around you? If you’ve ever seen a tree and wondered what it was, our new, updated and waterproof Species Guide with over 50 species found in the DC metro area is for you!
  3. Need a good book to read on a porch or in a park or backyard? We have quite the list of books featuring trees.
  4. Want some tunes for your walk, indoor workout, or gardening adventures? Don’t miss our Tree-mendous Tunes playlist full of songs with trees in them.
  5. While you connect with friends, family and colleagues over the internet, be sure to connect with us too! You can follow us for urban forestry news on Facebook, comical snippets on Twitter, tree memes on Instagram, and even for a laugh on TikTok!

Article photo courtesy Diane Krauthamer via Flickr.