How connecting with nature benefits our mental health
This month is Mental Health Awareness Month and this year The Mental Health Foundation is encouraging you to connect with nature. During the pandemic, millions of us embraced nature, and The Mental Health Foundation’s research showed that green spaces and walks outdoors were vital for our mental health. Wildlife webcams saw their visits increase by over 2000% and wider studies revealed that people not only spent more time in nature during lockdown, they noticed it more too.
The foundation’s chief executive, Mark Rowland, remarked ‘nature is our great untapped resource for a mentally healthy future’, and we couldn’t agree more. However, we recognize that connecting with nature is not always as easy as it sounds. Luckily there are a lot of ways you can access nature every day regardless of your location.
Here are five ways to connect with nature and take care of your mental health:
Look around you
Out your window or on your doorstep – even in cities where nature can be harder to find, a community garden, vegetable allotment or wild urban meadow is never far away. Keep an eye out for the unexpected and pay attention to your surroundings, nature is everywhere.
Exercising outdoors can help reduce tiredness, sadness and feelings of anger so swap the treadmill for a run in the park, take a power walk around your block, or go for a wild swim. And leave your headphones at home – let the birds be your soundtrack!
Capturing nature as you see it is a great way to connect – writing, drawing, painting or taking photos of the great outdoors encourages you to form an emotional connection to nature that will last a lifetime.
It feels good to take care of something, nature included. Whether you bring plants into your home, get a bird feeder, participate in community conservation or walk instead of driving, looking after the world around you is good for you and the planet.
Treat your senses
Have a mindful moment with nature – take time out to look, listen and reflect upon your surroundings. Whether that’s listening out for birdsong, watching the trees sway in the wind, or watching the sun set, being at one with nature helps promote a sense of calm and joy.