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Stressed millennials shun the outdoors

More than half of 18-24 year olds report feeling stressed at least once a day | Main causes are money, work, future prospects | Top de-stress activity is watching a film/TV

More than half of today’s mil­len­ni­als (54%) say that they suf­fer from stress on a dai­ly basis, yet many fail to get out­doors to take their mind off things, reveals a sur­vey[1] released today for sus­tain­able farm­ing char­i­ty, LEAF (Link­ing Envi­ron­ment And Farm­ing), organ­is­ers of this month’s LEAF Open Farm Sunday.

Two thirds of 18 – 24 (66%) year olds say they spend just 60 min­utes or less out­side each day, with a fifth spend­ing a wor­ry­ing 10 min­utes out­side or less. These fig­ures are in con­trast to the gen­er­a­tions before them – with over two thirds of those aged over 55 (68%) report­ing that when they were the same age, they spent an hour or more out­side every day, with four in ten (40%) spend­ing more than four hours outdoors. 

Instead of going out­side, half of 18 – 24 year olds (50%) say they would rather stay indoors to watch a film/​TV, and one in three will snack on junk food (36%) or scroll through social media (36%) to take their mind off their wor­ries — which are dom­i­nat­ed by anx­i­ety about mon­ey (53%), work (52%) and future prospects (41%). Fam­i­ly issues (33%) and rela­tion­ships (28%) make up the rest of the top five biggest caus­es of stress for millennials. 

When ques­tioned, near­ly four in ten (37%) of mil­len­ni­als believe that they should spend more time in the coun­try­side. More than a quar­ter (27%) believe it is eas­i­er to relax in the coun­try­side than indoors but peo­ple still shun the outdoors. 

The sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty has proven that there is a pos­i­tive link between well­be­ing and spend­ing time out­doors being close to nature, yet more than one in three (36%) of 18 – 24 year olds spend 30 min­utes or less out­side each day and 13% can­not remem­ber the last time they took a walk in the coun­try­side. This is in stark con­trast to those aged over 55 of whom 39% said they spent at least three hours a day out­doors when they were that age. 

There are a num­ber of rea­sons mil­len­ni­als are opt­ing to stay indoors rather head out­side. Over half (51%) com­plain it is too cold and near­ly three in ten (29%) say it is too mud­dy, whilst over a fifth (22%) don’t like insects and bugs and one in ten (9%) are not con­fi­dent that they have the right clothes to wear. 

When they do get out­side though, near­ly one in six (58%) 18 – 24 year olds admit a walk in the coun­try­side can help relax them, yet many are inter­rupt­ing their relax­ation with tech­nol­o­gy. More than one in four say they have to take their phone with them when they vis­it the coun­try­side, with one in five (20%) claim­ing they can’t go more than ten min­utes with­out check­ing their phone. 

Mean­while half of them (52%) say whether some­where is pic­turesque enough to make good pho­tos influ­ences their deci­sion of where to go out­doors — with more than a quar­ter (27%) say­ing it is actu­al­ly the decid­ing factor. 

Over the past decade, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Essex has been research­ing people’s per­cep­tion of their own men­tal health and well­be­ing and whether this changes after they have gone on a trip to a LEAF Open Farm Sun­day event. The most recent find­ings from LEAF Open Farm Sun­day events in June 2017[2] show that spend­ing time going for a walk, vis­it­ing a farm or with ani­mals out­doors makes peo­ple feel hap­pi­er. In the study, peo­ple who vis­it­ed a farm said it had lift­ed their mood (63%), boost­ed their ener­gy (44%) and they felt less tense (34%). Out­door activ­i­ties (such as nature walks, tours of the farm and see­ing the ani­mals that take place on Open Farm Sun­day) can increase con­nect­ed­ness to nature, which is low­er for the younger mil­len­ni­al gen­er­a­tion com­pared to the over 55s. 

Dr Mike Roger­son PhD, AFHEA from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Essex, who has researched the impact of attend­ing LEAF Open Farm Sun­day events said: Spend­ing time out­doors ben­e­fits our men­tal and phys­i­cal health and this can be impor­tant for us all, includ­ing young peo­ple expe­ri­enc­ing depres­sion, anx­i­ety or stress. Some­thing as sim­ple as going for a walk or vis­it­ing a local park or farm can make a mas­sive impact and events such as Open Farm Sun­day can play an impor­tant role in our society.” 

The sur­vey has been timed to coin­cide with the annu­al LEAF Open Farm Sun­day on 10th June 2018, which sees hun­dreds of farms across the coun­try open their gates to the pub­lic with activ­i­ties rang­ing from guid­ed tours, get­ting up close to farm ani­mals, adven­ture trails through wood­land, trac­tor and trail­er rides, craft activ­i­ties, talks and food tastings. 

Sus­tain­able farm­ing char­i­ty, LEAF, is urg­ing young peo­ple and fam­i­lies to spend more time out­side to reduce stress and improve mood.

LEAF Open Farm Sun­day Man­ag­er Annabel Shack­le­ton said; Vis­it­ing a farm on LEAF Open Farm Sun­day is the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty for young peo­ple to explore and enjoy the great out­doors, recon­nect with nature and reap the ben­e­fits that comes with this. Farms all over the coun­try from Jer­sey to Scot­land are open­ing their farm and host­ing lots of activ­i­ties for all ages. The best news is that entry and park­ing are free for most.” 

For more infor­ma­tion about LEAF Open Farm Sun­day and to find a farm to vis­it on 10th June go to www​.farm​sun​day​.org

5 ways to de-stress outdoors:

  1. Take a stroll in the coun­try­side and take time to appre­ci­ate all that is around you 
  2. Lis­ten out for the birds in the hedgerows, stand and watch cows graz­ing, bees col­lect­ing pollen, or just the wheat blow­ing in the breeze 
  3. Relax as you breathe in the smell of the trees and wildflowers 
  4. Take off your shoes and feel the grass beneath your feet 
  5. Have a pic­nic and take time to real­ly taste your food.

[1] Sur­vey con­duct­ed with 2,000 adults aged 18 – 65+ dur­ing April 2018 by Mortar 

[2] Uni­ver­si­ty of Essex analysed the find­ings of ques­tion­naires giv­en to 83 peo­ple who vis­it­ed a farm dur­ing Open Farm Sun­day 2017 who record­ed how they felt before and after their farm visit 

Click here to view the full press release. 

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