Approximately 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and at the rate which we are expanding in less than 50 years it will increase to 75%. A strong correlation that may be surprising, is the impact of being a city dweller has on your mental health. Many studies have been conducted in the past years proving the correlation of urbanization and mental disorders.
Residents of urban areas are 20% more likely to have an anxiety disorder than those who live in rural areas, according to Stanford researchers. Studies have shown that while taking a walk through an urban area, the parts of your brain that are associated with depression and anxiety are active while walking through nature they are not.
Being in nature allows for your mind and body to be present, while the feeling of being surrounded by business and concrete keep you alert, stressed and anxious. Thousands of people commute by foot throughout the city on a daily basis, which means they are all likely to develop various mental disorders just by walking to and from work and home.
In many places, including Sacramento, it is not uncommon for natural areas to be demolished in order to make way for construction. With the increase of residents moving into the city, the question of how much more room there needs to be is up in the air. We are seeing people who have lived in their respective neighborhoods be pushed out, with many winding up on the streets because of expensive rent prices. How much room will the city dedicate to those people? Will it continue to destroy homes and natural areas in order to house those with money, or will it invest in creating more shelters and resources?
With the city slowly becoming denser, there will need to be more resources for mental health that are accessible, although as previously stated, studies show that just by being in nature, you are positively affected. Most apartment complexes do not allow ample room to garden, and there are only so many accessibility community gardens, although the implementation of more would likely prove to be beneficial.
While there is no way to prove how much nature one should be exposed to in order to be a fully healthy individual, it is recommended to get at least an hour of sun exposure a day. Taking weekend trips is also highly encouraged by professionals, and to take any chance you can to go outside.