The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is nature. Nature is central to our psychological and emotional health, with 45% of us reporting that being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health.
After a difficult year due to the Pandemic, more and more of us have experienced mental health problems one way or another, due to financial and health worries, and loneliness.
So why is nature this year’s theme? According to US studies since the 1960’s, it was found that patients who were treated in hospitals with a view of nature recovered faster than those who weren’t.
Four in ten of us said they felt less anxious and worried when surrounded by nature, and two thirds found that they experienced positive emotions when close to nature.
Nature brings consolation in times of stress, and even small contacts with nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and can be effective in protecting our mental health ad preventing distress.
Unfortunately, 13% of UK households have no access to a garden. The goal for charities such as the Mental Health Foundation and Mind is to make nature more accessible for everybody, encourage people to experience it more regularly and to see how it benefits their mental health in a positive way.
Ways you can connect with nature
- Find nature wherever you go: Even if you live in a crowded city, there’s lots of nature to be found everywhere. Local parks are a great place to experience wildlife.
- Take time away to connect: During times of stress, take time out for yourself to connect with nature. You can always go and visit the beach, the countryside or enjoy a sit down or stroll in a local park.
- Connect creatively: There are lots of other ways you can connect with nature, such as getting creative with drawing or painting, or even photography.
- Bring nature to you: If you live in the city or don’t have access to a garden, you can always bring nature into your home. Start with introducing house plants or herbs, which are a good way to bring greenery into your home. If you have access to a windowsill or balcony, out birdseed to attract birds.
- Exercise in nature: Going for a run, cycle or walk helps to reduce feelings of anger, stress and tiredness.
- Find out more tips on how you can connect with nature through the Mental Health Foundation: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week
- Mind is a great charity for support with mental health and with plenty of helpful, downloadable resources: https://www.mind.org.uk/get-involved/mental-health-awareness-week/
- The Samaritans are an amazing charity that have helped millions of people in a crisis, with a freephone helpline available 24/7: https://www.samaritans.org
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