“There is something to be wondered at in all of Nature” – Aristotle
Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 10 to 16 May 2020, with the theme of “nature”. The main aim of the week is to inspire people to connect with nature in a new way, noticing the connection your surroundings can have on your mental health.
During the long months of lock-down many of us have turned to nature and embraced the outside by going for walks. Exercising outside has become a popular coping mechanism for many, celebrating the link between nature and positive well-being. There is lots of research to support the role that nature can play in protecting our mental health; the good news is there are many simple ways to bring nature into your everyday life.
Here are some top tips from the Mental Health Foundation on how you can connect with nature.
Nature surrounds us – whether in the form of a garden, a park, a beach or a courtyard. Wherever you are, look out for shifts in weather, birdsong or any activity taking place nearby. Take time to notice your surroundings, even by looking out of the window.
Take quiet time to reflect in natural surroundings using your senses. Smell the freshly cut lawn, listen to birdsong, watch the movements of clouds. These things can help you find a sense of calm.
Spend some time visiting green spaces, such as parks, woodland, gardens or blue spaces like beaches, lakes and rivers. This can help lift your mood and help reduce the risk of mental health problems.
Keeping a plant in your home/office can be a great way of having something natural to see, touch and smell. Think about growing vegetables at home or putting bird feed in the garden.
Try exercising outside – whether it’s in the form of a short walk or bike ride, or a long run. This can help reduces feelings of stress, sadness and tiredness.
Combine creativity with the outdoors. Taking photos, painting, and gardening are all activities that can help boost your mood whilst connecting you to the outdoors.
Taking care of something can really make you feel good. This can be as simple as recycling or walking instead of taking the car.
Mind provides mental health services in local communities across England and Wales. You can find out if there is a local Mind where you live here.
If you’re having a difficult time, you can get in touch with the Samaritans via phone or webchat about anything that’s troubling you, no matter how large or small the issue feels. Find out more at www.samaritans.org.
The Mental Health Foundation has a range of content designed to give you more information about mental health and to help you to look after your mental health.
Rethink Mental Illness runs services across all kinds of disciplines, from Helplines, Advocacy, Housing, Mental health training and much more. The also run local peer support groups. Find out more at http://www.rethink.org.