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Constantly getting updates about the pandemic while you’re already stressed at work is a sure-shot recipe for disaster. Stress can not only lead to changes in your physical, mental, and emotional responses—but also leave the door open for health ailments. Stress might be a simple bodily reaction, but it comes with a lot of negativity and therefore it becomes necessary for us to control it.
But what if the solution to your stress was right outside your door? You see, according to a study published in Public Health in Practice, people who regularly take walks amidst greenery have better stress-coping abilities.
The researchers behind the study, led by Professor Shinichiro Sasahara at the University of Tsukuba, focused on the sense of coherence—a quality indicative of a person’s threshold of dealing with stress.
Sense of coherence (SOC) has three dimensions: comprehensibility (recognition and understanding stress), meaningfulness (finding emotional balance and motivation), and manageability (feels that they can cope with stress). The study found that those who smoke and do not exercise tend to have weaker SOC, while on the other hand those who are well-educated and married have stronger SOC.
“SOC indicates mental capacities for realizing and dealing with stress. 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.” Professor Sasahara said.
According to the study, simply jogging every day can help you deal with stress better. Walking regularly also removes negative thoughts and acts like a stress relief for the body. These simple activities don’t require any special equipment and can improve your mood.
The study researchers discovered that working people who regularly take walks in green space have higher stress coping ability, as these activities help them take care of their mental and physical health.
The study used the survey data of more than 6000 Japanese workers between the ages of 20-60. The study found strong SOC among those who regularly go for walks to the forest or urban green spaces.
The researchers divided the respondents into four groups in the survey and then compared their walking activity—taking into account their income, age and marital status. Respondents with SOC scores were classified as weak, moderate, and strong. The study found that people whose SOC is stronger were taking regular walks amidst greenery.
“Our study suggests that taking a walk at least once a week in a forest or green space can help people have stronger SOC. Forest/greenspace walking 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,” explained Professor Sasahara.