Stress at work is a prevalent issue for employees all over the world. The World Health Organization has recently coined a new term called “burnout”, which is a condition caused by chronic stress at the workplace.
Occupational stress is especially common in Japan as the country is known for requiring employees to work long hours.
A new study by scientists from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, has suggested that walking in green spaces or forests may help alleviate stress. It was published in Public Health in Practice.
Researchers analyzed data from nearly 6,500 workers in Japan between 20 and 59 years old in 2017.
Each participant was given a sense-of-coherence score, which measures how the ability of individuals to look at the world and make their lives comprehensible, manageable, and meaningful.
A previous study indicated that people with a high sense-of-coherence score can manage stressful events in life better. This suggests that a worker with a high score might be able to deal with stress better in the workplace.
In this study, scientists divided participants into different groups based on their reports when walking in green spaces or forests. They then analyzed the data to find correlations between the amount of time in nature and a few factors, including physical exercise, smoking habits, income, education, marital status, age, and sex.
The results showed that nearly 76% and 56% of participants walking in green spaces or forests, respectively, at least one time per year.
Scientists identified that participants who walked in green spaces or forests at least one time a week experienced a considerably positive link to a middle or strong sense-of-coherence score.
The findings of this study line up with other previous studies on the benefits of being in green spaces.
In Japan, forests account for up to 67 percent of the land. Even in large cities, access to gardens and parks is easy.
Walking in green spaces or forests is a simple activity. You do not need any special training or equipment, making it a good habit to manage stress at work and improve mental health.
A limitation of the study is that most participants had graduated from universities and had a higher average income than the majority of workers in Japan. Thus, it requires caution to generalize the findings.
In addition, the participants self-reported their habits, which might not be completely precise.