We must consider getting back into green spaces to restore our wellness. The stressors of daily life - whether financial, social, racial or otherwise - take a toll on us individually and as a people.

Contact with natural landscapes and green spaces has a restorative effect on our mental and social health and our immune system. Whether we walk or hike in the forest or park, join a community garden and grow greens and okra like grandma and them used to do, or other activities, we will boost our mental health and physical well-being in the process.

And most of all, the data back it up. Studies have shown that access to green spaces has a positive mental and physical impact on us and our children, and therefore our quality of life. Particularly in urban areas, where access to nature may be limited, being in green spaces means less anxiety and depression and better sleep, a greater appreciation of life and an ability to deal with problems, healthier social interactions and less loneliness, and a greater sense of community.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, contact with nature is associated with better immune functioning and improved health for people with cardiovascular disease and other ailments.

Children and adolescents with exposure to nature benefit from increased physical activity and fewer health problems, a more positive mood and emotions, and lower psychological stress. And a study from the journal Nature Sustainability found that children ages 9-15 in an urban environment who live near or have sustained access to woodlands gain a positive impact on their cognitive development and mental health.

The ecosystems of biodiverse urban green spaces also protect us from noise pollution and air pollution, and trees provide shade and guard against heat stress. And along with improved psychological well-being, greener environments can bring reduced crime.

In addition, water, the beach and the ocean benefit our mental health, body and spirit. The beach and the ocean actually heal our brains, and staring at the ocean puts us at ease and in a “mild meditative state.” Living near the water relieves depression and insomnia, encourages physical activity, boosts creativity and gives us time to reflect. The vitamin D of the sun is good for our health, and the sand and saltwater make our skin healthier.

Sadly, 70 percent of low-income areas do not have green spaces, and Black communities and other communities of color are three times as likely to live in areas lacking nature. Environmental gentrification refers to a situation when only people of means can enjoy greener environments. Under the push for urban sustainability - which is a good thing - property values are rising and driving out low-income folks - which is not a good thing.

Our environment shapes our behavior. And making sure everyone has access to natural environments is a requirement, not something we have the luxury of opting out. Green will help us heal, and wherever we live, let’s ensure our communities have the parks, forests, fields, hiking trails and coastlines we need to give us peace of mind.

David A. Love, JD - Serves

BlackCommentator.com as Executive

Editor. He is a journalist, commentator,

human rights advocate, a Professor at

the Rutgers University School of

Communication and Information based in

Philadelphia, a contributor to Four

Hundred Souls: A Community History of

African America, 1619-2019, The

Washington Post, theGrio,

AtlantaBlackStar, The Progressive,

CNN.com, Morpheus, NewsWorks and

The Huffington Post. He also blogs at

davidalove.com. Contact Mr. Love and


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