‘Marcin Mazur/Lambeth Palace’

Public health expert says more time outdoors improves spiritual health

Tue 20 Aug 2019
By Heather Preston

A Christian public health advisor says churches should be utilising outside spaces to serve communities and help people connect with God to combat mental illness.

It comes as new research from The British Ecological Society has found visiting a green space can promote good mental health.

The study revealed that spending time outdoors gives people the same rise in happiness as the arrival of Christmas.


Director of public health for Hertfordshire and Christian, Jim McMannus, says that spending time outside has huge benefits for both our mental and spiritual health.

Speaking to Premier he said: "Being in green space can help people feel calm, deal with stress and help reduce your blood pressure and even help with climate change."

"The connection with the natural environment, and being away from technology, helps us to relax.

"But there's also something about being in God's creation and putting into perspective who we are as human beings in relation to the rest of creation."

Speaking of his own experience McManus said being outside helps him to pray and reflect on God and said that churches have a great opportunity to bring their worship and service outside of the confines of the building.

McManus works with the Church Times and the Conservation Foundation to promote the use of church gardens and green spaces to benefit the public and said the possibilities are endless.

"Churches could create quiet gardens for reflection or gardens to give people volunteer space and employment or projects for people who just need space to combat loneliness.

"Even if it's just from the perspective of making your gardens look a little bit interesting, that can actually have an impact."

"There's all sorts of things you can do and churches should be leading it - we absolutely should be bringing the benefits of a strong connection with creation back into people's daily lives if we can."


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