Mental Health Awareness Week 15-21 May
Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week which this year is tackling the theme of anxiety.
While lots of different things can make us feel anxious, the Mental Health Foundation has some great recommendations for managing our anxiety including spending time in nature.
Time spent in the natural world has a positive impact on our mental health as it can help us feel calmer and less stressed. This could be as simple as watching birds from your garden or going for a walk in a country park. Any amount of time doing this is good for us, but the Mental Health Foundation recommend that an hour or longer allows us to really immerse ourselves in nature, and has the best impact on our wellbeing.
Mental health charity Mind has got some useful suggestions for boosting our mental wellbeing when we spend time in nature.
- Engage your senses and explore the world around you. Take note of things to see, hear, taste, smell, or touch, like the sensation of pebbles beneath your feet or the gentle touch of wind and sunlight on your skin. Capture these moments by taking photos or jotting down observations in a diary or on your phone.
- Challenge yourself by setting goals to notice at least three things in nature each day. Enhance your mindfulness by listening to recordings of mindfulness exercises: you’ll find useful resources for this on the Mind website. Reflect on what you’re grateful for, as it’s easy to overlook the wonders of nature.
- Minimize distractions and embrace the present moment. Mind advises against using headphones, encouraging you to listen to the natural sounds around you. By immersing yourself in these experiences, you can truly appreciate the beauty and serenity of the world around you.
It comes as no surprise to hear it’s been scientifically proven that birds are good for our health. A study last year, led by academics from King’s College London found that seeing or hearing birds helps improve mental wellbeing.
If you’re interested to know more about boosting your wellbeing in nature, we’ve got lots of resources from mental health charity Mind and the World Wide Fund for Nature in our blog Looking out for wildlife, looking after yourself. And you can also find out from Ranger Tony about why nature is the antidote to stress in his blog about birdwatching being good for the soul.
We’re so fortunate to have the beautiful Solent coast on our doorstep with its wealth of wildlife and nature. Thanks to everyone who looks out for birds and to give them the space they need to thrive.