We’ve all had a pretty tough year and the impact that it’s had and will have on our mental wellbeing will be long felt. A recent paper by the US-based organisation KFF reported that 4 in 10 adults experienced anxiety and/or depressive symptoms in early 2021 compared to 1 in 10 prior to the pandemic in Jan 2020. The report highlighted that young adults, women and people of colour are more likely to experience mental wellbeing difficulties than their older, white men counterparts. An initial UK study in 2020 conducted by UCL reported that following the first lockdown levels of anxiety and depression, despite levels falling in June 2020 as lockdown restrictions relaxed, remained highest among young people, those with lower household income, people with a diagnosed mental illness, people living with children, and people living in urban areas.
Last week, the UK’s #MentalHealthAwareness Week campaign focused on how contact with nature is fundamental to supporting well, balanced lifestyles. The Mental Health Foundation released their tips for connecting with nature to improve your mental health, including how small things we do every day can help us keep well.
We love these tips and have revamped our Tranquil Pavement London to help support people to find ways of practising these every day in their local area. For each tip, here’s how you can use the Tranquil Pavement London and our friend’s tools to stay well as we hopefully emerge from the pandemic. We worked with our long term collaborators Outlandish Cooperative to produce the revamp.
- Find nature wherever you are
Use the Tranquil Pavement to find nearby tranquil spaces, streets and moments that people have shared to #tranquilcitylondon. These are the green leaves on the map.
The background map layers show greener dots the more tranquil and restorative a space is likely to be (using our specially created Tranquil City Index!).
- Connect with nature using all of your senses
Our map incorporates many different environmental parameters together, highlighting where you can find less road traffic noise and air pollution to help breathe better and find more head space. But it also highlights where more diverse and interesting natural features exist, such as forests, woodlands, botanical gardens, lakes, canals and reservoirs where you can experience a more tactile contact with nature and wildlife.
Our new background layers allow you to find more tranquil and healthy streets anywhere in London. The Tranquil City Index (Streets) layer shows the streets that are quiet, less polluted, more green and nature filled. The Healthy Streets Index layer shows the streets that are best for walking, cycling, accessibility and health as per the Healthy Streets indicators and was created as part of the _Streets collaboration. Click the menu icon in the top right to select the layer that’s right for you!
- Get out into nature
London has a wealth of larger parks, gardens, forests, woodlands, nature reserves and reservoirs, but also loads of community groups that run walks, events and need volunteers to get involved and be part of a growing community! Our new coloured leaves show where there are walks (purple leaf), events (blue leaf) and community hubs (orange leaf) that are in search of volunteers to make it easier to find and meet people.
- Bring nature to you
Our friends Lucy and Tom at Rype deliver plant packs that help you bring nature into your home and support you to look after and care for it (as it’s not always that easy to keep those plants looking healthy and well too!).
- Exercise in nature
Exercising in more natural environments, as well as ones that are quieter and have cleaner air, have greater psychical and mental health benefits than exercising indoors. If you want to find a tailored tranquil run, walk or cycle route, our friends at Go Jauntly use the Tranquil City Index to inform the ‘Green Routes for you’ feature. This creates bespoke tranquil and green journeys, which are either an A to B journey or a Loop back to your starting location.
- Combine nature with creativity
Tranquil City started with our #tranquilcitylondon, a creative way to explore how our cities can be calm, tranquil and good for us. Show off your creativity by capturing and sharing your moments of calm to Instagram and Twitter, including #tranquilcitylondon and the location to be part of the movement that says our cities can be good for us as well as the environment!
- Protect nature
We all need to do what we can to protect and nurture the environment and wildlife in London. The pink leaves show where existing tranquil spaces are threatened by development and need your support.
If you know of any campaigns or petitions that should be listed on the map, please post to #tranquilcitylondon on Instagram or Twitter and drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org for us to highlight it as threatened on the map and add information on how people can support/get involved.
We hope the new Tranquil Pavement further helps people to find those more tranquil, calming, nature-filled and restorative spaces and places to dwell wherever you are in London. Because we all need to find a bit of tranquillity these days, to help us cope on a daily basis and get through this together.
Grant & the Tranquil City team.