Nature and Wellness: De-stressing by connecting with green spaces

Aimee Guevara, Academic Success Centre

Over my last three years at Ryerson, I have learned that my environment can affect my studying and productivity. Lighting, background noises, temperature, furniture and the friends around me all seem to influence how productive my study session will be. And I recently discovered that my environment can greatly influence my mood as well.

Unpleasant environments can cause us to feel anxious, sad, irritable and stressed. These emotions can manifest into physical symptoms such as increased muscle tension, high blood pressure, increased heart rate or fatigue. This causes us to feel even more unpleasant, which produces more physical symptoms, and the cycle repeats.

I prefer to arrange my class and work schedule to make sure I’m only at school four days a week. However, this comes with some give and take. By having some long days (sometimes as long as 10 hours), I am able to have that full day away from school.

Trying to find a place to relax in between classes and work shifts isn’t always easy. At times, not even the popular SLC Beach can take the stress away. It almost feels impossible to relax when everyone on campus seems just as stressed, and everyone at Yonge and Dundas is always on the go. 

So where and how can we de-stress on or near campus?

Being in touch with nature can soothe, heal and provide stress relief (Larson & Kreitzer, n.d.).  Just being in a green space for a few minutes can make us happier and boost our energy.

In the summer, I like going camping, hiking and surrounding myself with nature. Nature has always been very calming and re-energizing for me. However, these activities and spaces aren’t always easily accessible during the school year, and it’s even harder to find the time in between all the assignments and studying.

As lucky as we are to have our campus in the heart of downtown Toronto, this comes with the challenge of having limited green space, or so I thought. I spent last summer trying to find some hidden gems around campus.

The next time you need to take a break in between classes or a change of scenery, check out the ten spots below (the time listed is the approximate walking distance from TRSM). Or join Ryerson Student Affairs’ Mood Routes, where students, faculty and staff are invited to go on curated nature walks to help restore concentration, uplift mood, decrease stress and build community.

  1. Kerr Hall Quad (5 min)
  2. Trinity Square Labyrinth (2 min)
  3. Downtown Diversity Garden (4 min)
  4. City Hall Podium Green Roof (5 min)
  5. Nathan Phillip Square Peace Garden (5 min)
  6. Osgoode Hall (8 min)
  7. Cloud Gardens  (10 min)
  8. Grange Park (11 min)
  9. Allan Gardens (15 min)
  10. St. James Park (17 min)

Interested in other health and wellness related resources? Check out our list on the Academic Success Centre website.

Larson, J. L., & Kreitzer, M. J. (n.d.). How does nature impact our wellbeing?  Retrieved from