Getting Back to Nature for Mental Health

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and more so than ever our social feeds have been packed full of reminders and resources to help benefit our mental health.

After the year we’ve all had, perhaps now we realise the importance of the simplest things – the check in phone call, a hug, that hour outside to stretch our legs and get away from the screen.  The all-important moment of calm, time to ourselves, and getting back to basics – and now research reveals how connecting with nature benefits our mental health.

During lockdown, the majority of us have turned to nature, perhaps without even really knowing it.  Finding a new appreciation for local parks and going for a daily walk.  Exploring local areas, and those hidden gems on our doorsteps that we’ve never ventured to before, as a result of travel restrictions and foreign holidays being off the agenda.

Research by the Mental Health Foundation reveals that more than half of UK adults say that being close to nature improved their mental health, with four in ten saying that it made them feel less worried or anxious, allowing them to experience positive emotions.

And we’re not talking a hike in the hills, simply taking time to see, hear and feel nature, be it listening to birdsong, growing a plant at home, or planning and taking a trip to the beach or countryside has been shown to improve our mental health – simply by noticing it’s beauty and how it feels.

As a grown adult, I’ve taken a whole lot of joy in feeding the swans and geese during lockdown, and seeing their brood grow with the seasons… as well as unashamedly becoming a boastful plant mum at home, perhaps not even realising the silent benefit and joys of keeping plants alive – and dare I say even propagating a plant myself! Glad to say I’m not alone, as there was also a jump in Spring sales at garden centres, reflecting the boom in gardening over the past year.

And while Mental Health Awareness Week shines a light on the topic, it’s really something we should all be working on, always. While lockdown somewhat enforced us all to take stock, perhaps it’s a habit we can all take forward, and learn from.  To that end, here are some top tips to build in to your working week and beyond.  There’s no better time to get started!

  1. Find nature wherever you are – in the city or countryside, amongst it, or from a window!
  2. Connect with nature using all of your senses – find calm in the sights, sound and smells of nature!
  3. Get out into nature – spend time in green spaces to boost your mood
  4. Bring nature to you – be it a budding gardener, allotment space, balcony box or humble houseplant
  5. Exercise in nature – overcome and express your feelings on a daily walk, run or cycle
  6. Combine nature with creativity – snap a selfie, write, draw or paint your favourite outside spaces
  7. Protect nature – do your bit, recycle, walk or cycle, every little helps!

Want to find out more? You can download the full report here.

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