OPINION: More students should use the USF Botanical Gardens

Students should take advantage of the Botanical Gardens to help cope with the stress of the new semester.

With the beginning of a new semester come the stresses of college. Fortunately USF offers several resources to help students cope, including an on-campus Botanical Gardens.

Being surrounded by nature is a great way to relieve stress, and the Botanical Gardens give students the opportunity to do that without even leaving campus.

The Botanical Gardens are part of USF’s College of Arts and Sciences’ Environmental and Conservation Outreach, Research, and Education program (ECORE). It showcases a beautiful environment of up to 3,000 plants, animals, and unique natural habitats according to the USF website.

The Botanical Gardens offer more than a walk through the greenery, the environment allows students to decompress and relax when life gets stressful due to school or work. According to 2022 research done by the Lise Meitner Group for Environmental Neuroscience, walking in nature for an hour greatly decreases the part of the brain region that is involved in stress processing.

This is particularly important for college students, as 80% suffer from frequent stress, according to the American Institute of Stress in a 2019 article. This is an issue close to USF, as the USF Counseling Center is visited by 10,000 students seeking mental health services every year, according to the Student Health Services annual report.

Nature experiences of even just 10 minutes have shown to improve mood an average of 86% among college students, according to a 2022 study. When students are happier and mentally healthier, they perform better in academics, work, and social endeavors.

A new semester brings new stressors, which is why the USF Botanical Gardens are such an incredible resource for new and returnin students alike. They allow students to decompress and step away from worries about their studies or work without ever leaving campus.

With campus life being such a high-energy environment, sometimes students need to step back and allow themselves some time in a calmer state of mind. The Botanical Gardens not only offer college students the chance to decompress, they also offer yoga classes led by a licensed personal trainer on Fridays and lessons on beekeeping with specialized professionals as stated on the Botanical Gardens website

Everybody deserves that peaceful time without thinking about grades or assignments due, so what better way than taking a stroll through USFs own personal Secret Garden.