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Ong, Cindy, 2024. Off work to unwind in nature : how can therapeutic gardens in urban parks benefit time-strapped working professionals?. Second cycle, A2E. Alnarp: SLU, Dept. of People and Society



Living in a high-density, fast-paced city such as Singapore can be mentally and
physically draining due to traffic, noise pollution, overcrowding, and other urban
stressors. Poor mental health is becoming increasingly prevalent among working
professionals aged 18 to 39. Therefore, it is crucial to find ways to support these
individuals in improving their mental health and wellbeing. Therapeutic gardens,
designed to support the mental health of older adults in Singapore, offer a
promising respite from daily stressors and worries.
This study aimed to investigate how therapeutic gardens in public parks,
primarily designed for elderly programs, were experienced by working
professionals and to identify garden features that enhance or impede their
restorative potential. Two therapeutic gardens, located in Sun Plaza Park and
Sembawang park were chosen as study sites. Eight participants aged 24 to 33
were recruited for a self-guided garden stroll, during which they performed two
intervention tasks: a deep breathing exercise and a photo-taking assignment to
capture features or places in the garden that were experienced positively or
negatively. After the stroll, participants sat down for a one-on-one semi structured
interview. An emoji affective sheet was used to measure their emotional states
before and after the stroll.
Data were analysed thematically, revealing that convenience, solitude, safety,
serenity and opportunities for exploration and play are key considerations when
choosing a place for relaxation and recovery. Sensory experiences related to
sights, sounds, and touch were enhanced through the breathing and photo-taking
assignments. Equally important were clear signage, garden tidiness, and the
freedom to explore independently. The study suggested that gardens that were
closed to homes or workplaces were preferred. Besides the garden’s quietude as
an escape from daily life, opportunities for play were highly valued. Directive
signage and prescriptive approaches to garden experiences should be avoided.
Engagement strategies like mindful interventions proved effective in raising
awareness and enhancing the experience of the self-guided stroll.
Overall, these gardens have the potential to support recovery from daily stress
and tension, offering play opportunities that enhance creativity. To fully optimise
their benefits, it is essential to consider the combination of various components in
designing a people-centric, restorative environment that meets the needs of
working professionals.

Main title:Off work to unwind in nature
Subtitle:how can therapeutic gardens in urban parks benefit time-strapped working professionals?
Authors:Ong, Cindy
Supervisor:Mårtensson, Fredrika
Examiner:Marcheschi, Elizabeth and Litsmark, Anna
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2024
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:LM007 Outdoor environments for health and well-being - Master's programme 120 HEC
Supervising department:(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of People and Society
Keywords:restorative environments, restoration theory, stress reduction, self-guided garden stroll, mindful interventions, play
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Deposited On:17 Jun 2024 08:04
Metadata Last Modified:18 Jun 2024 11:34

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