NEW YORK — The simplest tool to calm anxiety is literally a step away. A survey of 2,000 Americans with outdoor spaces at home finds that 94 percent agree that the simple act of stepping away and going outside helps them relax when they’re stressed or dealing with anxiety.

On average, Americans believe it takes about nine minutes to calm down and unwind when stressed after stepping out for fresh air.

Commissioned by TruGreen for Mental Health Awareness Month in May and conducted by Talker Research, researchers found that seven in 10 people have made a conscious decision to spend more time outside to improve their mental health. Similarly, 69 percent have made an effort to get outside during their daily routine.

When it came to day-to-day stress and anxiety, respondents rated their stress at a moderate level of four (on a scale of one to 10). However, those who include outdoor time in their daily routines reported lower stress levels (4) compared to those who don’t (5).

According to the research, the biggest stressors of daily American life are finances (52%), current events (37%), health (37%), and relationships (29%). Respondents said activities like breathing in fresh air (54%), going on a walk (53%), cleaning and organizing (34%), and texting or calling a friend (33%) were helpful ways to reduce stress.

Reflecting the positive mental health benefits of heading outdoors, more than half the poll (51%) considered having an outdoor space a non-negotiable when they moved into their home. Despite the benefits of outdoor time, many struggle to prioritize it: 65 percent of those with outdoor routines will skip them on a busy day.

Nearly half (48%) also said having a nice yard gives them a sense of pride, and three-quarters (74%) feel they should spend more time than they do enjoying their outdoor space. Of those, 57 percent even feel guilty about not spending enough time outside in their yards.

Aesthetic factors can also affect someone’s outdoor time as well. More than nine in 10 respondents (92%) believe messiness or poor upkeep of their yards negatively impacts their enjoyment of spending time outdoors.

“A well-kept outdoor space enhances home appeal and makes it easier for homeowners to incorporate outdoor time into their daily routines. But while maintaining outdoor spaces is a priority for nearly 90 percent of Americans, it comes with challenges like weeding and pest control,” says Matt Morelli, region technical manager at TruGreen, in a statement. “If maintenance feels overwhelming, partnering with a professional can ease the burden, rather than facing the task alone, so homeowners can get back to enjoying their free time — including being outside.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans whose house or living space includes a yard, patio, or porch was commissioned by TruGreen between Apr. 16 and Apr. 22, 2024. It was conducted by market research company Talker Research, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society (MRS) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).