The word cognitive holds the position of being the 22nd most popular word on Merriam-Webster.com. General meanings linked to this admired word are related to your mental health. Questioning minds are finding that a change in scenery from urban development to lush, green ecosystems gifts you with improved mental health. Diving deeper into the impacts of green space on mental abilities offers you a well-deserved reason to refresh your soul with regular treatments of natures’ remedies granted through a multi-sensational nature experience.
Cognitive relates to the diversity of processes that occurs within your mental abilities; such as thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering (5). Your skills include perception, memory, judgment and reasoning. Evaluating, problem solving, comprehension, and decision making are also terms included in your mental abilities (8). These characteristics relate to mental health and well-being as you realize your powers, respond to stress, work productively, and contribute to your community. Enriching your life with nature improves your mental health. Richard Louv uses the term “nature-deficit disorder” as a negative condition relating to depression in children that do not experience nature on a regular basis (1). Up to 12% of burgeoning global diseases result from mental and behavioral disorders.
The minds ability to process information and dictate behavior is guided by your environment (9). Quality mental health is impaired by artificial, built ecosystems (4). As our landscape is developing into human-made urban concrete and buildings then cognitive functioning and mental health trends are shifting. Your minds ability to remember, concentrate, remain focused, act impulsively, and define your moods are impacted by your environmental experiencing (2). Cities tend to have high concentrations of pollution and retain massive amounts of heat. Up to 57% of tested children had brain lesions when exposed to conditions found in highly polluted cities and hospital admissions for dementia and senility increased during heat-waves (7). Natural ecosystems bless humanity by cleaning up pollution, relieve the impacts from heat-island effect, and improve cognitive performance.
Resilience and recovery to stress improve your ability to concentrate when exposed to green space. The trees’ green lush regalia filters the air of impurities. Liquid water is changed to vapor while absorbing heat as leaves transpire this vital resource. The green canopies shade the understory and absorb heat to provide respite from the sun’s radiant energy. Attention Restoration Theory enlightens you to provide relief from your focused, directed attention to task by embracing involuntary fascination of birds and moving leaves. A multi-sensory awareness includes capturing the flowers fragrance, hearing the insects’ songs, and experiencing the movement found in air (1). Viewing natures’ beauty in advance of experiencing stress gifts you with a higher recovery and resilience to life’s pressures (3). Spice your experience with physical activity in natural environments to improve your mental health (6).
Your cognitive mental state is characterized by your ability to think, understand, perceive, and comprehend your environment. The landscape is continually being transformed from natural ecosystems to artificial, human built cities. As a result, your optimum mental health may be weakened. Relief may be found by dedicating time to experience and moving around in natural settings. Shifting your attention towards random events issues forth an invitation to improve the health of your mental state.
Elizabeth Armstrong, Ph.D.
1 Bolen, Anne. 2012. Healing Gardens. National Wildlife. Vol. 50:2.
2 Bratman, Gregory N., J. Paul Hamilton, and Gretchen C. Daily. 2012. The impacts of nature experience on human cognitive function and mental health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Vol. 1249. Pgs. 118-136.
3 Brown, Daniel K., Jo L. Barton, and Valerie F. Gladwell. 2013. Viewing Nature Scenes Positively Affects Recovery of Autonomic Function Following Acute-Mental Stress. Environmental Science & Technology. Vol. 47:11. Pgs. 5562-5569.
4 Evans, GW. 2003. The built environment and mental health. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin Of The New York Academy Of Medicine. Vol. 80. Pgs. 536-555.
5 Merriam-Webster: An Encyclopaedia Britannica Company. http://www.erriam-webster.com/dictionary/cognitive
6 Mitchell, Richard. 2013. Is physical activity in natural environments better for mental health than physical activity in other environments? Social Science & Medicine. Vol. 91. Pgs. 130-134.
7 United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2013. Eco-Health Relationship Browser. http://www.epa.gov/research/healthscience/browser/index.html
8 Wikipeida: The Free Encylopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognition
9 Zurich, ETH. 2009. Epigenetics: DNA Isn’t Everything. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090412081315.htm