BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 10 June '18

Millennials won’t head outside because it’s too cold and muddy – plus there are too many insects

More than half (54%) of today’s millennials say they suffer from stress on a daily basis, yet many fail to get outdoors to take their mind off things.

This is the main finding of a survey released for sustainable farming charity LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), organisers of this month’s LEAF Open Farm Sunday.

Top five stresses for millennials

Two-thirds of 18- to 24-year-olds say they spend an hour or less outside each day, with a fifth spending a worrying 10 minutes outside or less.

These figures are a stark contrast to the generations before them – over two-thirds (68%) of those aged over 55 said they spent an hour or more outside every day when they were the same age, while four in 10 said they spent more than four hours outdoors daily.

Instead of going outside, half of the respondents said they’d 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.

Stresses include 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.

Millennials need to get out more

The scientific community has shown there’s a positive link between wellbeing and spending time outdoors being close to Nature.

When questioned, nearly four in 10 (37%) of millennials said they believe they should spend more time in the countryside, and more than a quarter said they believe it’s easier to relax in the countryside than indoors.

Still, 13% can’t remember the last time they took a walk in the countryside.

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 10 (29%) say it is too muddy, whilst over a fifth (22%) don’t like insects and bugs and one in 10 (9%) are not confident that they have the right clothes to wear.

Taking tech outdoors

When they do get outside, nearly one in six (58%) 18- to 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 10 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.

Mental health and the outdoors

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 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 left them feeling 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 connection to Nature, which is lower for the younger millennial generation compared with the over-55s.

‘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.’

DR MIKE ROGERSON PhD, AFHEA
University of Essex

Open Farm Sunday

The survey has been timed to coincide with the annual LEAF Open Farm Sunday on 10 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.

‘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.’

ANNABEL SHACKLETON
LEAF Open Farm Sunday manager

LEAF Open Farm School Days – the nationwide initiative to get children out onto farms and learning about where their food comes from – will run alongside LEAF Open Farm Sunday throughout June. Focusing on 14- to 18-year-olds, LEAF is urging schools to set up visits to help lessen the negative effects a lack of time spent in nature can have.