The Mental Health Foundation first started #mentalhealthawarenessweek 21 years ago, each year the foundation chooses a theme for the week. The purpose of the week is to shine a light on mental health and how together we can start conversations on how we can improve it.
This years theme is Nature. Wondering why? Well, Nature is known to be an effective way of tackling mental health problems and aiding mental wellbeing. According to Mental Health Foundation’s “Research has shown that being in nature has been one of the most popular ways the public have tried to sustain good mental health at a challenging time.” The pandemic has turned the world on its head and many have found solace in their daily walks and getting back in touch with Nature, which has made this years’ theme so relevant. “Throughout the pandemic, nearly half (45%) of people in the UK told us that visiting green spaces, such as parks, helped them to cope.” (Mental Health Foundation 2021). If you want to get back in touch with nature take a look at our 5 ways to make life a little greener.
Go for a walk
Going for a short walk in the day has many benefits, not only does it reduce your risk of heart disease and strokes but it also boosts your immune system – who knew? Walking is also great for getting some much needed Vitamin D. It’s also amazing for boosting your mood, by boosting energy levels making you feel more positive. Even if you live in an urban area, you’d be surprised at how much Nature is around you, stop and listen to the birds, watch the clouds and enjoy the fresh air. Take some quiet time to reflect on your surroundings and relax.
Plant some flowers/seeds
If you’ve got a balcony, yard or big green garden there are many ways you can incorporate gardening into your routine. You may not know where to begin, there are many resources to help you decide what plants and seeds are best for each season and weather. Get the whole family involved, take a look at Gardeners World’s family-friendly projects here. If you’re looking for some low maintenance plants take a look at cacti and succulents, if they can survive in the desert they should be low maintenance. Let us know how you’ve added more “green” into your home. We recently had a go at making our own Terrariums, this was a super fun mini-mission take a look here.
The next time you go for a walk in a green space, really use your senses to see what Nature is about. It could be a garden, beach, canal side, allotment or park, take 5 and take a look at what’s around you. Look out for bees in flowers, birds in trees, squirrels, there’s so much to take in. Make a checklist before you leave and see if you can find them all, make it a nature hunt!
Connecting with nature has many benefits from improving mental health, wellbeing and getting physically more active. The Mental Health Foundation has got a fantastic resource a downloadable journal to document how you feel before and after connecting with nature and jot down anything interesting you notice while doing so! You can download it here.
This may seem like a no brainer, but take a deep breath, simply step outside and take it all in.
What have you done recently to re-connect with Nature? Let us know in the comments.
If you’d like to read Mental Health’s Foundation research in detail please take a look here.
*Mental Health Foundation. (2021). Nature. How connecting with nature benefits our mental health