Mental Health Awareness Week – Reconnect With Nature

The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is to reconnect with nature. 

Nature has always been integral to our wellbeing, throughout most of our history humans have been a part of nature and it’s only been in the last 5 generations that many of us have lived largely separated from it. 

Being connected to nature has been shown to have health benefits, in fact, some research has shown that patients in hospital who have a view of nature recover quicker. Some care homes have used animals to help residents feel less isolated, more connected and even benefit their physical and mental health. It’s also one of the reasons that many cities and towns are designed to have green open spaces following the Industrial Revolution when conditions were terrible and peoples health was not a priority. 

We know being connected to nature has a range of physical and mental health benefits, so here are some tips to help you connect with nature:

  1. Find nature where you are: Spend time in your garden, local park, allotment or community garden. If you have had a busy day, watch the stars and the moon at night for a moment and listen to the sounds of the night. Try and notice nature that is around you 
  2. Use your senses: Watch the movement of the clouds, listen to the sound of the rain or birdsong. Take some time to quietly watch and listen to nature, it will help you feel a sense of calm and joy
  3. Go out into nature: If you can, spend some time vising green spaces such as parks or woodland or even the local zoo. This can help to improve your mood
  4. Bring nature to you: Being around nature can be a challenge for some, not all of us have gardens for example or we are simply to busy. Why not bring nature into your home with plants and herbs. It’s a great way of having something to see, touch and smell. If planting isn’t for you, connect with nature through art or nature documentaries
  5. Exercises in nature: If you are able to, try exercising in nature. Go for a run, walk or bike ride around your local park. Leave your headphones at home and listen to the sounds of nature while you exercise. This can help with feeling tired, low mood or even anger
  6. Creativity and nature: If you like being creative why not combine this with nature and draw, paint or create art about the natural world. 
  7. Protect nature: Helping to protect nature and our natural spaces can be rewarding. Take simple steps such as recycling or walking instead of driving. You could even volunteer for your local animal shelter or community garden 

There are a set of 5 pillars known as the 5 ways to wellbeing, that are essential to our mental health and focus on social connectedness, physical activity, awareness, learning and giving. Try to incorporate these when reconnecting with nature. You can find more information about the 5 ways to wellbeing here.

We hope that this has given you some inspiration to help you reconnect with nature.

Remember that if you feel you may need support with your mental health, there are people and services you can reach out to. We have a list of services you can connect with here.