Threatened green spaces can boost happiness as much as Christmas

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A new study suggests that a trip to the park can boost people’s happiness by a similar amount as Christmas Day.

For three months, a team of scientists studied hundreds of tweets per day posted from 160 parks in San Francisco.

Researchers from the University of Vermont in the USA found that the more trees and vegetation in parks, the bigger the mood-boosting effect, while flowers were one of the key things that brought joy to park visitors.

The study showed that visitors to parks and green spaces used happier words and expressed less negativity on Twitter than they did before their visit.

They found the positive effect to be so strong that the increase in happiness indicators from a visit to park or green space was equivalent to the mood spike on Christmas, which has been found to be the day on which people express most happiness on Twitter each year.

Commenting on the study, Green Party MEP for the East of England, Catherine Rowett said:

“While expressions of joy on Twitter obviously don’t necessarily equate to deep happiness, the findings that green spaces reduce negative emotions should come as no surprise and I am sure the findings would be replicated here in the UK.

“Green spaces in our towns and cities are refuges in the urban landscape that are cherished by their many users. The significance on people’s mental and physical wellbeing cannot be overstated and it is vitally important that local authorities protect green spaces and improve them so that they can continue to be enjoyed by all.”

Massive cuts by central government over the last decade has forced cash-strapped councils to sell off public buildings and parks at a rate of more than 4,000 a year, research from the charity Locality suggested.

Between 2013 and 2018 it was estimated that English councils disposed of 20,651 public buildings or spaces.

An investigation by the Mail on Sunday last year also found that almost a third of councils had sold off green spaces in the past year – and one in five were considering sell off land within the next three years.

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