This week is Mental Health Awareness Week – a week dedicated to talking about and looking after our personal and collective mental health. Brought to us each year by the Mental Health Foundation, the theme for 2021 is nature, and how being around and immersing ourselves in nature has a positive impact on our mental health.
We know that getting outdoors and enjoying some fresh air can help us to really connect with nature, and in turn ourselves. Going for a run, or a brisk walk gets our heartrate up, our endorphins pumping, and helps to ease symptoms of stress or anxiety.
Focusing on the nature around us can really help to ground us. Whether that’s through counting the different things that we can hear, see, smell, touch and taste whilst out walking; or taking part in a grounding meditation that helps us to connect with the earth below our feet.
The past 14 months have been difficult for us all. Amidst all of the uncertainty, one thing that has been a constant, is nature. Although we’ve not been allowed to travel – we have, in the most part, been able to go outdoors to get some fresh air, which has been a lifeline for many of us.
There are plenty of ways that you can keep connected with nature, as the country eases out of lockdown. We’ve listed some below for you…
- It’s strawberry season!
Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries… Whatever takes your fancy – take a look for local farms and fields that are offering fruit picking events. Not only will you be able to harvest your own delicious fruit, you can bake it into something beautiful to share with friends and family afterwards.
- Get green fingered
Take a look in your local supermarket, hardware shop or bargain outlet to see if they sell pop-up greenhouses; lots of places are selling them at the moment, with prices ranging from £30 to just over £100. What’s great about having your own mini greenhouse in your garden/ yarden/ or on your balcony, is that you can grow your own fruit and veg, and save a few extra pennies on your grocery shop.
- Take the slow way…
Did you know that there is a huge network of public footpaths connecting the UK’s towns and cities – many of which have lain abandoned for years? Slow Ways is a new initiative which encourages people to walk their local footpath, rate the walk, and review it for those who follow in their footsteps. You can find more information here, and there are plenty of paths to choose from, for those who are after a challenge, to those who are looking for a new lunchtime stroll.
- Ask about social prescribing
Social prescribing is when your GP refers you to support in your local community. Many people are pointed in the direction of gardening clubs, rambling or walking clubs, cooking clubs and art clubs. It’s worth asking your GP next time you’re in, if social prescribing is an option for you.
- Keep your eyes on the skies
It’s nesting time for many of our native birds here in the UK. Next time you’re walking in your local park, see if you can spot any nesting birds amongst the branches.
If you’re aged 35 or under, and experiencing thoughts of suicide, call HOPELINE247 on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – Our suicide prevention advisers are available from 9AM to midnight, every day of the year. We are also here for anybody concerned for a young person who might be experiencing thoughts of suicide.