This years’ Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 focuses on the positive benefits of reconnecting with nature in our day-to-day lives.
Making nature part of your daily routine.
There is lots of research to support the important role that nature plays in protecting and supporting our mental health.
For many though, being able to be within nature may not be as easy as it sounds.
The good news is you don’t have to embark on a climb up Everest to feel the benefit – there are lots of simple ways to bring nature to your everyday.
We have some top tips on how you can build your own connection with the great outdoors.
1: Find your very own piece of nature.
Nature is all around us. It might be a garden space, a local park, a nearby beach or the beauty of open countryside. Even within cities where nature can be harder to find, there are community gardens or secret courtyards to discover.
For example, here are a few garden escapes to be found, and experienced for all London dwellers: www.visitlondon.com
Keep an eye out for the unexpected – an urban fox on your way to the early shift in the morning, birdsong outside of your window when you wake up. Try to tune in to nature wherever you are, in whatever way you find is meaningful to your day.
2: Connect your senses with nature.
We can all be accused of misconduct, when it comes to taking some quiet time to ourselves. By removing yourself from the noise of life, and immersing into nature, you will be able to better reflect and calm your senses – which will be a real boost to your positive mental attitude.
Whether relaxing in the garden or on your way to work via a park walk, try purposefully listening out for birdsong, look for bee’s going about their work, or notice the movement of the clouds in the sky. All of these natural movements will help you find a sense of calm and positivity.
3: Get yourself out there.
Make time to be in nature.
Try to spend some of your time visiting and enjoying natural places – green spaces like, parks, forests, lakes or nature reserves. Being a part of these places will help lift your mood and feel better about things.
Watching, listening, smelling nature is a subconscious melody of the mind. The calming noises of trees blowing in the wind, aromatic smells of newly bloomed roses and the joyous tweeting of playful birds, all connect with your own natural instincts of being a part of nature.
Still not convinced? – why not try out meditating practises or, as you sleep, listen to the sounds of nature: www.headspace.com (then head outside and try out the real thing).
4: Bring nature to your world.
For some people, it is hard to access natural places due to where you live, how busy you are, how safe you feel or your health.
So, why not try bringing nature to you.
Having plants in your home is a great way to have something natural to see, touch and smell. If you have a garden or balcony, think about how you can most the most of it by growing flowers, plants or vegetables. Maybe get a bird feeder and watch what feathered friends you attract.
Another fun way to bring nature to your home is to grow your own vegetables – maybe you’re a budding home cook, and to have fresh herbs (grown by yourself) could be a lovely addition to how you cook. Check out these home growing kits for a little inspiration: www.notonthehighstreet.com
5: Make nature part of your exercise regime.
If you like to keep fit, try to do it outside – whether it’s a run, cycle ride or a short walk. Walking or running outdoors in nature can help prevent or reduce feelings of anger, tiredness and sadness.
Try leaving your headphones at home (a testing request for most) – unless you’re listening to sounds of nature of course! Maybe you can also try new routes that bring you closer to green spaces or open water.
6: Combine nature with your creative side.
You could try combining the natural environment with your creative activities. This could involve taking part in outdoor activities like: dance, music or art.
Enhance your sense of connection by taking photos, writing, drawing or painting outdoor scenes, plants or animals. Noticing the beauty of nature and expressing this creatively can help you find meaning, an emotional connection to nature, that will stay with you for your lifetime.
If you have children and you’re stuck for ideas that you can do with your family outdoors, check out these nature-inspired outdoor arts and crafts ideas: www.firefliesandmudpies.com
Taking care of nature is a fantastic way to feel good.
We are all part of the natural world, connected both physically and mentally – so the more you engage your life with nature, the more positive your outlook will be.
You can look after nature in your actions and your choices – this can be as simple as recycling, walking instead of driving, or even joining community conservation initiatives. Taking care of nature will help you feel that you are doing your part, and that will help you feel more positive all round.
We must not forget about nature – we depend on it, and it depends on us – so get involved, be involved and stay involved.
Nature has a lot to offer – so start living a happier, more positive life, today.