Mental Health Awareness Week – the power of nature
Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place between 10-16 May. This week will be a chance for us all to check in with ourselves to find out where we are at after all that has happened over the last year. During the Coronavirus crisis, alongside concerns for our physical health, many of us for the first time may have experienced a mental health problem, or seen a loved one struggle. All this while valuable support networks around us disappeared due to the social restrictions.
To help us take stock, this year’s theme is Nature. The evidence is clear that access to the natural world is crucial for our mental health. Numerous studies have linked connecting with nature to an increased sense of calm and a reduction in depression, anxiety and stress-related symptoms. Millions of us re-discovered this during lockdown. Whether it is was going for a walk in the park, tending our garden or taking time out to listen to birdsong in the morning before we logged on for work, many of us will have consciously or unconsciously felt the healing power of nature.
Experiencing wonder and beauty
However, as things return to the new normal, it can be easy to forget what we have learnt. As the demands of life begin again, and the usual social engagements and work meetings take precedence, we may find it difficult to once more live in the present, to appreciate the now and focus on just being; and instead get lost in our thoughts and worries, ‘to-do’ lists and plans for the future. So while the memory of lockdown is still fresh, why not take a moment to consider how nature makes us feel?
Every day during Mental Health Awareness Week, we will be posting tips across our social media platforms on how you can experience the wonder and beauty of nature. This will be an opportunity to remind ourselves how important nature is and perhaps open our eyes to some new ways of connecting with nature, now that we are gradually getting our freedoms back. Here’s a preview of a few to get us started.
1. Take note of changes
To reconnect with nature you need to really look for changes in the seasons, such as temperature drops, amount of hours of light and the colour of the leaves on the trees. These felt like big changes to our ancestors and this can be the first step toward really feeling at one with it all.
2. Use your sense
The survival of early humankind depended heavily on our senses. Nowadays, we rarely need to use them to their full extent. So we need to consciously make the effort. Touch the bark of a tree, disassemble a leaf, pick the pine nuts in a pinecone, listen to the birds sing.
3. Grow your own herbs or vegetables
Another great way to feel connected to the cycles of nature is growing herbs or vegetables. Follow the process of growth from a seed into a plant and harvest it when it’s ready. You’ll learn the art of patience and get to taste real food you nurtured yourself.
4. Take time to visit wild places
Whilst spending time in any green space will help your wellbeing, you could go one further and make an effort to spend time in wild places where you can observe a variety of natural eco-systems. Go for a long walk in a nature reserve or a natural forest and stop for at least 10 minutes to have a look around you. Try to spot a red squirrel or a bird you’ve never seen before, or just take in the view and listen.
Join us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter during Mental Health Awareness Week to discover more tips on connecting with nature. If you would like to share some of your own tips, remember to use the hashtag #mhaw
You can find more information about Mental Health Awareness Week including how to get involved in the conversation here: https://www.mind.org.uk/get-involved/mental-health-awareness-week/