There comes a time in all our lives when things feel a bit too much. This year’s #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, looks at one simple thing that can help support good mental health – spending time in nature.
There’s a lot of good research to support the role nature can play in protecting and supporting our wellbeing. Nature can really help put things in perspective, take the pressure off and bring calm, wonder and joy to our daily lives.
Spending time in nature is known to reduce anxiety and depression, and basking in natural light can lift your mood – especially if you are combining a brisk walk or run with it! Exercise produces endorphins – your body’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals – giving your mood a natural boost.
But you don’t have to climb a mountain to feel the benefit – there are lots of simple ways to bring nature into your everyday.
Going for a walk or resting in the park, woods or by a river, and really taking time to see, hear and feel what’s around you can be grounding, helping you to find moments of calm and joy.
If it’s harder to get out, fling open the doors and windows to appreciate the sight and sound of the birds; take time every day and notice the changes in the garden. Even better get involved in some planting, or simply nurture some houseplants and scented herbs.
Really process what you are sensing with a touch of creativity – paint, draw or photograph what you see – if you really can’t leave the ear phones at home, find music to reflect your surroundings. Simply noticing the beauty of nature can help you find an emotional connection that will boost your mood.
These are just a handful of ways you can connect with nature. For more tips download the Mental Health Foundation’s free Thriving with Nature guide – created in partnership with WWF-UK. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/Thriving-With-Nature-compressed.pdf
The Foundation has also created a downloadable journal to document how you feel before and after connecting with nature: www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/MHAW21_Nature_Journal.pdf
And finally, for walkers the Chiltern Society have produced an online series of free leaflets with many beautiful routes to enjoy. https://chilternsociety.org.uk/free-walks-leaflets/