Mental Health Awareness Week: Nature and Wellbeing

It is Mental Health Awareness week this until Sunday the 16th. Now, of course it should be Mental Health Awareness week all year round, 24/7, but to celebrate this specific week of broadening our knowledge I thought I would write a blog post surrounding the theme this year, which is nature!


As you may know, for me nature and wellbeing go hand in hand. Having experienced anxiety since school, I have a long history with mental wellbeing and have only recently really made the connection between how much my anxiety and mood is lifted and being outside, walking, exploring and truly being present in the moment. Finding new places to explore completely takes my focus away from feeling anxious and it’s a great activity to enjoy with friends and family. Getting outside and experiencing nature also encourages people to open up and talk about their mental health which is only a good thing!


WHY IS NATURE GOOD FOR OUR MENTAL HEALTH?


As I have mentioned above, being outside, having a stroll is a great, non-confrontational activity to use when you want to talk about mental health. Being outside takes us away from our screens and to reconnect with the beautiful nature we have, whilst also improving our physical health too. However, being out in nature also doesn’t have to be hiking, it can be gardening, sitting in the park with a friend or spending time with animals. However you want to enjoy nature it has been shown to reduce feelings of stress and anger and improve your mood. So, what are you waiting for?


IDEAS TO GET YOU OUT IN NATURE


So, let’s give you some tips to get you experiencing nature and improving your mental wellbeing!


Bring the nature inside!


- Buy some potted plants and scatter them around your home or create a particular area for your new friends!

- Grow some plants on your windowsills

- Create a comfortable place to sit where you can look out the window.


Get outdoors!


- Go for a walk in your local green space. This could be a park or nature reserve.

- Try star gazing. There are many apps and websites that can help you identify stars.

- Go for a hike, run, jog or do some yoga outside! You can do this alone or why not see if there is a local group you could join?

- Volunteer for a conservation charity. This will not only get your outside, but also doing something incredibly satisfying and rewarding.

- Take time to look around you – What can you see? What plants are around? What wildlife can you see? What can you hear when you close your eyes?


Remember, if you are going for a walk alone, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area, plan ahead, make sure your phone is fully charged and tell someone where you are going if you can.


Start small if engaging with nature in some of these ways seems overwhelming at first. Remember, do things you find enjoyable and relaxing, and you can always try other things when you feel comfortable.

I have listed some extra tips below to get you started when venturing to the great outdoors!

Top tips for enjoying nature for wellbeing

- If you decide to go for a walk, choose a length of walk etc that is within your ability – you don’t want your lovely walk to turn sour, so make sure it will be enjoyable. Having said that, I thrive on being challenged but there is always a thin line.

- Remember to take layers/waterproofs depending on the time of year/weather, thinking about if you are going somewhere where shelter will be limited!

- Do some research! If you are going to a local nature reserve or even just for a walk somewhere you haven’t been before, why not do a little googling? You might uncover some interesting knowledge and it will make you appreciate it all the more!

- Get creative and take some photographs! You don’t need a super fancy camera for this, you can just use your phone! Or take a mindful colouring book out in the garden or park?


And there you have it! I hope you have a mindful Mental Health Awareness week and you manage to bring a little bit of both nature and wellbeing into your week!


Find out more information about the link between our mental health and nature at through the links below.


https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/thriving-with-nature/guide

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/nature-and-mental-health/how-nature-benefits-mental-health/


Lucy xx