“There was an acute emphasis on our teams taking breaks and spending time in nearby green spaces”

OT  spoke to Dr Nima Ghadiri on the health and wellbeing benefits of utilising green spaces in the workplace

For consultant medical ophthalmologist, Dr Nima Ghadiri, who is based at Liverpool St Paul’s Eye Unit, access to green spaces has had a direct impact on his wellbeing during his career. 

After working as a junior doctor in the UK and finding the experience stressful, Ghadiri travelled to New Zealand where he worked in Auckland and experienced first-hand the benefits of regular breaks, mindfulness and green spaces.

“[When I was in New Zealand] even though the on-call days were longer than in the UK, there was an acute emphasis on our teams taking breaks and spending time in nearby green spaces,” he told OT, adding: “Although I understood it and it really impacted my day, back then I couldn’t quite put it into words what I was feeling – I noticed a reduction in stress from being able to see the nature, the sky, the trees, the water.”

Reflecting on the experience, he said: “When I did have access to green spaces I found that I was more at peace, my mind was more relaxed and even my body felt more relaxed as well.”

For Ghadiri, it is important for healthcare professionals to carve out time in their day to focus on their own wellbeing, for both themself and their patients. “Those who are suffering from burnout as a result of long days without having a chance to rest and relax will impact healthcare outcomes,” he told OT, emphasising: “The evidence has shown that having green spaces, having contact with nature does provides us with psychological comfort, it awakens our senses and gives us a chance to reduce stress and practice mindfulness.”

Ghadiri acknowledges that access to green spaces is not always possible in the hospital environment, but when it is not, he believes that incorporating art into the hospital environment can have a similar wellbeing impact. When working at a hospital in Cambridge that had art throughout the building he shared: “When I was call on those long, long walks between wards I noticed how my mood level improved and stress came down.”