This week is Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, and the focus this year is on nature.
I give nature a huge dose of credit for helping myself and my family to move through the past 12 months relatively unscathed. If I look back through the course of the pandemic so far, thinking about the happy moments that we shared, it was nature that stands front and centre. Listening to bird song in woodland, watching the blue tits raising their family in our nest box, nurturing a duckling and releasing it back into the wild. Observing caterpillars grow, having tadpoles in our pond and planting trees in our garden. In fact as I write I gaze out across the green, freshly mown lawn, with the wildlife corner, wildflower area and flower borders all starting to grow. Together they bring a gorgeous dose of colour and calm to our lives.
We are lucky to have our garden space, but long before we had a reasonably large outdoor area to call our own we still immersed ourselves regularly in the natural world. Nature has long been a part of my life, and something that my parents both made sure was a regular feature growing up. Walks across open countryside happened almost every weekend, my walking boots once purchased were rarely put away. Together, Jacob and I try to recreate a sense of this with our boys.
Given that it is Mental Health Awareness week, I thought that I would share some brilliant resources that might help you, if you are looking to incorporate more of the natural world into your life. But first, what are the specific benefits?
Research has shown that being outside can help –
- You to become more physically active;
- Reduce stress;
- Improve mental wellbeing.
Some of this is because of the effect that natural light has on us. In part getting outside also increases our opportunity to produce vitamin d. Some of it though is down to how calming it can be, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given our evolution is largely based on our ability to thrive in the natural environment. Did you know that there is a whole type of therapy dedicated to encouraging people to spend more time outside too?
With this in mind, I hope that you might find the following resources helpful. Not just for what remains of this week, but far beyond the setting of the sun on this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week too.
Friends of the Earth have launched a digital tool to show what you can do to get involved with nature and the climate in your area:
The Wildlife Trusts have a number of initiatives for groups or individuals. You can find out more via their website:
The WWF and Mental Health Foundation have teamed up to create a Thriving With Nature Guide:
Walking Britain has free resources detailing walks in your area and around the country:
Mind has a great list of suggestions of ideas to try in nature:
More Mental Health Awareness support is available from the NHS:
Enjoyed this post? You might like to take a look at Mindful Makers in Trying Times.
If you have any resources to share, please do so in the comments below. Thank you!