“When I step into a park, I breathe a sigh of relief and my anxiety melts away.”

Many of us have an intuition that being in parks make us feel happier and more relaxed. There is simple pleasure in standing underneath a great London Beech and seeing dappled sunlight coming through it’s leaves; or walking next to a pond and hearing the birds sing.

But why do these experiences universally calm and uplift us in a way that looking at a painting or listening to music can’t?

Parks are not just pleasant spaces but also living antidepressants

Serotonin is one of the feel-good hormones. Normal levels of serotonin make you feel happier, more alert, and more sociable. Most prescribed anti-depressant medications work by preventing the serotonin in your blood from being broken down.

Parks are filled with many different microscopic organisms and chemicals that promote serotonin production in humans.

Micro-bacteria in the soil


In the soil there are micro-bacteria called M.vaccae that when inhaled or ingested activate the neurons in the brain which produce serotonin making you feel good and increasing your resilience to stress.

Phytoncides chemicals from the trees

Tree hugging

Similarly, trees produce chemicals called phytoncides that help protect the tree from germs and parasites.

Different types of phytoncides also offer mental and physical health benefits to humans when breathed in.

  • Phytoncide α-pinene can enhance sleep
  • Phytocides β-pinene and D-limonene have anti-depressive properties that reduce cortisol and promote serotonin production.

Join us in the park

Spending time in a park or green spaces is one of the best things you can do for your mental health – it gives you that mood boost without any unpleasant side effects!

If you would like to spend more time in nature in order to feel happier, why not come along to our Roots to Wellbeing sessions?

Everyone is welcome!

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Supporting volunteers

From free training to small grants, we can support you, our dedicated volunteers to do more in our parks and community.

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