If you have ever spent time in in the great outdoors, you are probably familiar with the overwhelming calming feeling it provides.

Nature has a major positive effect on our mood – it seems to minimize all of our problems and invites us to sit back, relax, and finally enjoy (and appreciate!!) some peace and quiet!

According to many studies, there is mounting evidence that suggests spending time in nature improves our:

  • Immune system
  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Happiness
  • Well-being
  • Co-operation
  • Pro-social behaviour

But instead of planning outdoor trips  camping, hiking, canoeing, or kayaking, what if we lived around nature, full time – all year round?

Daniel Shaw, a psychology graduate from Trent University, wanted to see if living around nature provides the same benefits.

Many studies have studied the benefits of nature on younger demographics  – but Dan wanted to focus on older age groups.

selfie in Gatineau Park.JPG

With the help of his supervisor, Professor Lisa Nisbet, Dan surveyed 102 people from the Peterborough and surrounding area.

He measured the neighbourhood tree canopies around their homes.

under Bebb's Oak.JPG

By measuring tree canopies, Dan was able to measure how connected people felt to their environments, nature and neighbourhood.

Dan’s findings revealed that neighbourhood tree canopies are associated with better mental health perceptions, mainly focusing on stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms.

in a willow tree.JPG

Trees can be a simple part of the solution to re-connect people to the natural world, improve mental health and well-being, and mitigate the negative effects of climate change.

This is an important research study because it shows that tree canopies are an essential part of building neighbourhoods.

We can truly be happier if we co-exist with nature and learn to live with it!

Dan tells us “I received tremendous support from my supervisor, Lisa Nisbet, and the Psychology Department, my second reader Stephen Hill in ERSC, and the MaDGIC staff in the Library. Trent University’s community provided the tools and guidance to conduct this hands-on, multi-disciplinary, and collaborative research with relative autonomy.”

Thank you Dan for your important research and keep up the good work!