Mental Health Awareness Week starts on 10th May and the theme this year is right up our
street community garden… 😊 Connect with Nature. 🌱🐦🌳☀️
This Mental Health Awareness Week we are joining the movement to grow awareness of the role nature can play in preventing distress and creating good mental health for all of us. View the video below from the Mental Health Foundation or find out more at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/mhaw.
Connecting with nature can be good for your mental health
There are so many things we can do to connect with nature to improve our mental health, and there’s plenty of research to support the positive effects of us making even the smallest connections to our natural environment.
5 Ways to Wellbeing
Evidence suggests that there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. These “5 Ways to Wellbeing” can help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.
The 5 Ways to Wellbeing can be applied to almost anything, but here are a few simple ideas for how we can use them to connect with nature.
Use all of your senses to connect with nature
Put yourself in natural surroundings and take some time to reflect on it using all your senses. From relaxing in the garden, or sitting in a park to simply opening a window and feeling the breeze on your face, just stopping to connect with nature and reflecting on how it feels can be a real boost to your mental health.
Get active in nature
It’s amazing to see how spending time in natural environments can help to lift your mood and reduce your risk of mental health problems. Whether you go alone or with someone, “green spaces” like parks, gardens or forests or “blue spaces” like rivers, wetlands and the beach can help you feel better about things.
As an added bonus, if you’re physically able to exercise, try to your walk, run or cycle outdoors in nature in places that bring you closer to green or blue spaces. As counterintuitive as it might sound, getting active in nature this way can help to prevent or reduce feelings of anger, tiredness and sadness, and give you a positive boost for mental and physical health and wellness.
Take notice of nature
Nature is all around us. You don’t have to look far! The obvious places to stop and take notice of nature are in our gardens, local parks, open countryside, woodlands, and beaches, but even cities have nature to discover and explore – from windowsills and balconies to courtyards and community gardens.
Try noticing nature wherever you are, in whatever way is meaningful for you.
Take a few minutes to sit and appreciate even the smallest things – like the insects, and birdsong, or just the movement of leaves and clouds. All of these good things in nature can help you to find a sense of calm and joy.
Keep learning about nature
Sometimes it’s hard to access natural places because of how busy we can be, how safe we feel, where we live, or other things that may stop us like our health. Learning about nature can bring nature to you. Having plants in the house is a great way to have something natural to see, touch and smell for example, or adding a bird feeder can bring the natural world to your window. And the wonderful thing is how much more interesting and inspiring that connection to nature can be as you learn more about them.
If you have a garden, allotment or balcony, growing your own flowers, plants or vegetables is a nurturing learning experience. Or you can find your local community garden to grow flowers, fruit and veg with others to make it a social experience too!
Bringing some creativity to engage with your natural environment can also increase your sense of connection with it. From slow activities like taking photos, writing, drawing or painting pictures of the landscape, plants or animals, through to taking part in more active creative activities outside, like dance, music, or art, can all help reduce stress and improve your mood.
Give something back to nature
Taking care of something can be a great way to feel purposeful and in a good place mentally. So, what better thing to take care of, than nature? After all, nature is truly amazing and taking care of it can help you feel that you’re doing your part; which research proves can make you feel more positive all round.
We can help to look after nature in our actions and choices – from walking instead of driving, recycling, shopping and banking with eco-friendly companies, or even joining community conservation groups like your local Transition Town to help with projects like litter-picks, tree planting, and community gardens.