Connecting with Nature for Mental Health Awareness Week 2021May 14 2021
Connecting with nature can have huge benefits for your mental health and wellbeing.
This year, The mental health foundation chose the theme of nature for Mental Health Awareness Week. Their research found that during the pandemic going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies with 45% of people reporting being in green space had been vital for their mental health.
How to connect with nature
For many of us access to a green space or being able to connect with nature is not easy. The great British weather, mobility issues and travel restrictions can impact our ability to get outdoors. According to the Mental health foundation, websites showing footage of wildlife saw hits increase by over 2000% during the pandemic showing our interest in nature and even small interactions with nature can reduce feelings of isolation and protect our mental health.
Tips to connect with nature.
You don’t have to take up rambling or bird watching to connect with nature. There are simple steps we can take to connect with the outdoors every day.
Bring nature in to your home. Having plants or flowers in your home or natural materials such as pebbles or leaves around your living space can bring nature to you. Take a look out the window, arrange a comfortable sitting space and take sometime to notice nature. If you live in a built-up area focus on the skyline, see if you can see birds or clouds. Even on cloudy or rainy days nature has lots to offer, while we keep warm indoors!
Bring nature to your workplace. Take a walk in your lunch break. Take photos of your favourite place in nature and use them as a background on your computer or mobile device. On a nice day eat your lunch outdoors.
Exercising outdoors is a great opportunity to connect with nature, Try leaving your headphones at home to connect with the sounds of nature around you. If you normally exercise indoors why not try the same routine outside or go outdoors to warm up or cool down, taking some deep breaths while you stretch.
If you can’t get outside watching a nature documentary or listening to recordings of birdsong, rainfall or ocean waves
Sharing Nature with others
Nature is also great to share with family or friends. During the pandemic you may have met friends and family outdoors for walks and many of us are keen to continue these healthy habits once restrictions lift. Joining a walking group Walking for health is England’s largest network of health walks. The walks are open to everyone but are aimed at people who are least active.
Geocaching is a great activity for adults and children alike. Using an app on your phone can turn Geocaching into a treasure hunt. The cache is a small waterproof treasure box hidden outside. Using GPS coordinates you seek the treasure box. Caches are hidden all over the world, you could even have one really close to where you live!
Building an animal habitat such as a bug hotel, hedgehog house or a pond can be a great way to encourage children to get outdoors. Older children can keep a log of the animals they see and find out more about them.
Enjoy an evening outdoors. Use a stargazing book or App to help you recognise stars and constellations in the night sky.
For more information about this years Mental health awareness week visit www.mentalhealth.org.uk/mhaw