The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, running from the 10th to the 16th of May, is nature.
Nature is central to one’s psychological and emotional well-being and time spent among green spaces has been proven to boost your mood, reduce stress levels and bring a sense of calm.
During the pandemic, many individuals quoted time in nature as a coping mechanism, while others have rediscovered its beauty. In a period found to be isolating and difficult for many, walking among nature provides the mind with uplifting stimulation, enables us to stay active and reconnect with the environment’s natural splendour.
The impact of nature
The charity, Mind*, has seen the ways in which nature helps numerous mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. This could be the result of the physical activity and the way in which you can connect with people and be in a lighter, more calming space.
Taking part in a nature walk is proven to alleviate stress and the natural sounds encountered have been proven to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Walking among nature and around green spaces is also a great practice for your physical health. Exercise has demonstrated its effect on preventing the development of mental health problems and improving the quality of life of those who face such problems.
As social distancing regulations lift, meeting in nature became a means by which to reconnect with loved ones, helping to somewhat counteract the often isolating feeling experienced when struggling with your mental health.
How to better connect with nature
Spending 20 to 30 minutes, three days a week is enough to make a difference. Walking in green spaces surrounded by nature can help stimulate your brain and help you feel more mindful and present. It can also be a brilliant activity to introduce to your daily routine, be it during your lunch break or after work depending on your commitments.
If you have access to a garden or even a balcony with plenty of sun, growing your own food is a great way to connect and even contribute to nature. You can source herbs and seeds for a window pot from most supermarkets and markets.
Participate in outdoor activities
Organise a socially distanced picnic in your local park or simply sit in your garden or on your balcony to take in the sunshine. Instead of working out solely in the gym, try exercising outside. Head for a run or a jog in the park or find a local running group if you prefer group activities. If you aren’t a fan of running, then you could join a walking or hiking group and even practice your yoga.
Connect with loved ones
Allocating time to meet with friends and loved ones outside showcases that you are appreciative of your relationships and time with them. It means that you too can benefit from uninterrupted quality time with those you care for. Nature is a beautiful backdrop for any bench catch up or long walk conversation.
Connect with nature itself
While you are walking around consider the things that you can hear, smell and touch like the feeling of a warm breeze or daisies under your feet. Look up at the height of the branches and the different shapes of leaves, petals and stems. Taking in these various elements around you in that moment will help you remain present and is a brilliant practice of mindfulness. Moments such as these are incredibly beneficial in a time where we are glued to our screens or required to stay inside.
Further tips on connecting to nature during Mental Health Awareness Week can be found here.
The Green Ribbon Campaign
The Green Ribbon is the international symbol for mental health awareness. It can be worn to show that you care for the mental health of those around you or to mark a loved one lost.
The Green Ribbon Campaign* demonstrates the commitment of business to the mental health of their employees and works to create a visible and global community of support.
In keeping with the theme of nature, The Green Campaign is encouraging individuals to go outdoors and celebrate the positive impact that nature has had on their well-being in the difficult time of COVID-19.
Salix will also be sharing tips on positive mental health and prioritising well-being during the pandemic.
Event: The Serious Business of Happiness at Work
As part of Mental Health Awareness week and the discussion surrounding prioritising one’s well-being; Salix will be running an event with Action for Happiness and Investors in People on the importance of mental health at work.
Vanessa King, Head of Psychology and Workplaces at Action for Happiness, will share why happiness needs to be taken seriously for business and in workplaces. The event will discuss how the science of wellbeing can shape the future of work and the design of products, processes and culture. In addition, it will provide useful tools which can be utilised to tend to our well-being both in and out of working hours.
If you are interested in signing up for the event, you can register for free via the Eventbrite page here.
We hope that you can find the time to immerse yourself in nature for whatever period of time and in whatever way this week.
*If you or a loved one are experiencing mental health problems click here for further resources *
*Further information as to what inspired the Mental Health Foundation’s choice of nature as its theme for this week can be accessed here.
*Click here for Mind Charity.
*Click here for the Green Ribbon Campaign.