Urban Green Space: Improving Mental Wellness
When The Waterfront developers, Mark and Zachary Jaindl, saw an opportunity to redevelop post-industrial urban space on the Lehigh River in Allentown they realized they had much more than a typical multi-use project, they were providing mental health benefits. The positive effects of urban green space are immediate and long lasting according to studies done by the National Recreation and Park Association. There are nearly 40 years of past research that confirms nearby nature, including parks, gardens, urban forest, and green space support human health and wellness.
The Waterfront plans for green infrastructure that is co-designed for multiple human benefits. The campus green space will serve the primary goal of offering recreation and aesthetic amenities, while also containing spaces that mitigate stormwater, improve transportation, and improve air quality. The Waterfront green infrastructure will achieve essential utility functions in the community but are also designed to create an environment that provides nearby nature experiences and support health.
Health Benefits from Green Space at The Waterfront
Building community is a critical element for a host of health benefits, interpersonal relationships are formed between people and ultimately result in more supportive lifestyle networks. The simple presence of greenery appears to promote community connections. Views of green space from residences, like those at 560 Waterfront Drive, are linked to greater perceptions of well-being and neighborhood satisfaction. Greener neighborhoods tend to be safer, with fewer incivilities and less reported crimes. Active involvement in community greening and nature restoration projects also produce social benefits, including the strengthening of intergenerational ties and organizational empowerment.
Improved Mindfulness and Creativity
Contemporary lifestyles are busy, there is a much greater need today for intentional time-outs to be mindful. Studies of mindfulness, held for both mentally healthy and clinically depressed individuals, show benefits of improved mood, cognitive function, and stronger immune response. Nature settings offer sensory inputs that are mentally restorative and can foster imagination. In a study of creative professionals, nature experiences enhanced creativity by evoking new ways of thinking, promoting curiosity and encouraging more openmindedness.
A nature recharge may support creativity, as the restored mind is better at analyzing and developing ideas.
Better Mental Health and Functioning
Experiences of nature contribute to better mental health and improve one’s capacity to be productive according to Attention Restoration Theory. Modern life often demands sustained focus on projects, and this effort can lead to cognitive overload, bringing on irritability and an inability to function effectively. Views or brief experiences of nearby nature help to restore the mind from mental fatigue, as natural settings provide respite from the highly focused attention needed for most tasks in school or at work. This could contribute to higher productivity in the workplace, as research shows that office workers, like those in our commercial office spaces like 615 Waterfront Drive, with a view of nature are better capable of workflow, report fewer illnesses and have an increased job satisfaction.
Stress is a major contributor to health issues. Left unresolved, long-term stress can lead to decreased immunity and illness. The experience of nature is an antidote to stress, and the body’s positive response is remarkably quick, occurring within mere seconds. Studies by environmental psychologists show that visual exposure to nature, in the form of trees, grass, and flowers, can effectively reduce stress, particularly if initial stress levels are extremely high.
For more information on the mental and health benefits of green space visit the site for the National Recreation and Park Association.