Nature and mental health wellbeing

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It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme this year is Nature. Ask anyone what has helped people keep going through the pandemic and nature will be high on the list. The Mental Health Foundation, the organisation behind Mental Health Awareness Week, shares their research* on the impact of nature on mental health. 59% of the adult population found “going for a walk outside helped them to cope with the stress of the pandemic.”

Further, spending that time outdoors in green space is linked to better overall health wellbeing. As we take tentative steps out of lockdown**, how can we get closer to nature to bolster our mental health wellbeing?

Early morning sun in the green forest

Go for a walk – in a local park, or further afield in countryside if possible. Notice what’s growing, flowering and thriving. Psst: be quick if you want to see bluebells…

Reconnect – getting out in nature can be a great way to reconnect (observing safety guidance) with good friends we’ve scarcely seen for a long time. Compare what’s helped (and possibly hindered) us to weather the pandemic storm.

Listen – to birdsong, trees in the wind, the patter of rain or the rushing water in a river. If you’re with a companion, listen to them – how are they?

Reflect – what are you grateful for? Who helped you and who have you helped? I’m grateful for the army of volunteers at the vaccination centre who helped us all get smoothly through the process of confirmation, inoculation, and caution (to check we had no unwanted side-effects) before heading home.

Share – a photo of trees, flowers or a video of wildlife.

Bring nature indoors – a plant near the desk, pots of herbs for cooking.

Do you have ideas for spending more time in/with nature?

*’Resilience across the UK during the coronavirus pandemic’ – free to download from the Mental Health Foundation.

**At time of writing, UK restrictions are being eased. This may be subject to change.

Images: Sakure Flowers @Subbotina-DepositPhotos; Green forest @Pakhnyushchyy-DepositPhotos

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