Mental Health Awareness Week: How we can connect with nature

Nature is all around us, and it can lift our mood, benefiting our mental health.

Whether it’s a walk in your local park, a trip to the beach or a nature reserve, nature is always closer than you think.

There’s something about listening to the birds chirping of a morning, and feeling the stillness of the air around you that is relaxing.

To be connected with nature, we don’t always have to go further than our living room.

We’ve put together a list of 10 things where you can experience nature. From your living room, to the garden to a day trip to the beach.

We hope you find peace with these ideas:

Gardening

Getting your hands stuck in the soil and being around the different colours of plants can be very therapeutic and soothing.

Whether you have a small garden, a large space for lots of plants or a balcony, there is always a way to do some gardening.

You may think it’s better to have a big garden for some planting, but a trip to the garden centre or online shopping shows you can now get super slim balcony sized plant pots.

There are now even pots to hang off the balcony so you can have your very own flower haven just outside your window.

Bird watching

Sticking with the garden theme, do you ever sit in the garden or go on a walk, hear the birds and wonder what feathered friend is in the trees?

Some of us are able to name the type of bird off the top of our head, but if you’re just starting out, there are now apps to use on your phone which can identify the bird singing.

Grab those binoculars, download an app such as BirdNET, or familiarise yourself first from the RSPB audio library and see if you can identify any yourself.

You’ll be surprised at how long your mind is occupied and distracted for.

Beach

How beautiful is this stunning shot of Burnham-on-Crouch?

A sunset like this over the water can automatically take us to a place of peace and tranquillity.

That’s why the beach, a harbour or marina is such a wonderful place to connect with nature.

Hearing the sound of the waves, the seagulls and birds flying above and swooping into the water can be paradise for us.

Where the ocean meets land, and sun sets on a day that we may want to forget while we enjoy the peace.

Fields and farms

It’ll take your breath away more times than you can count – the rolling hills of a farmer’s field as you step out from the thick woodland.

Hands on your hips as you breathe deep and take it all in, the expanse of two, three, four or maybe even more open fields in front of you.

Open air and an actual horizon; nothing to interrupt the view for miles around, fields and farms invite us to explore and wander and immerse ourselves in nature… plus they’re great for getting your daily steps in.

Canals/rivers

Blue spaces (canals, rivers, beaches, wetlands) are extremely soothing. Similar to the sound of birdsong, the back and forth sound of waves or tinkling of rivers can have much the same effect.

As the weather gets warmer, you might consider taking up a paddleboarding or learning to kayak. Taking ownership of a new hobby whilst being in amongst nature could be just the ticket.

Parks

Tried and true, parks are a simple yet effective go-to option for connecting with nature.

Whether that means heading out for a stroll on your own, with a friend/family member, or enjoying the greenery with a four-legged companion, parks are a welcome addition in any city, suburb or countryside town.

Whilst listening to music on your walks can help keep your legs moving, remember to enjoy the sounds of nature as well – just every now and then, just for us.

If it feels daunting to go outside after a long period indoors, popping to your local park is a nice stepping stone onto bigger things.

You’ll be trekking through the Lake District National Park in no time.

Connect with nature using all of your senses

House plants

It’s not always easy to access nature, we understand that. Some of us won’t have a back garden to potter about in during summer, or a park just down the road to walk the dog.

If you’re living on the more urban side of life, try bringing nature to you. House plants are a great way of inviting nature into your home; colour, smell and touch all wrapped up in a smaller eco package.

Ferns are an easy introduction to house plants. They’re happy to live in kitchens and bathrooms and survive quite merrily with a daily dose of water.

Then again, who can go wrong with a mini cactus on their desk? Nice and simple.

Exercising in nature

Now, now. Don’t roll your eyes at this one, trust us – it’s not as awful as it sounds… Exercise, that is.

Make the most of your workout by setting up outside. The fresh air will do you wonders compared to a stuffy indoor space, and the bonus breeze mid burpee? You can’t buy that kind of relief.

Outdoor exercise doesn’t have to mean a calorie killer. Turn it into a brisk walk with friends or create checkpoint targets on a regular running route. Try to walk, run or cycle near a body of water, too.

Perhaps the best advantage of exercising in nature is the sunshine. Be mindful when working up a sweat that you’ll need to drink more water and wear sun protection, but the warmth on your face (and additional tan) really does help to put a spring in your step.

Nature and creativity

Protecting nature – recycling, to walking instead of driving, or even joining community conservation or clean-up groups, there’s a surprising number of ways we can combine the two.

Have you ever taken an outdoor dance class? Or found a comfy spot at the base of a tree to paint? Outdoor photography, for instance, is a wonderful way of connecting nature with creativity and seeing the world in a whole new light.

A sketchbook, a notepad for poetry – simply sitting and admiring the colours of nature itself as a form of art. How many different types of flowers are growing; the ripples in the pond water; the list goes on.

If you can find a way to express your appreciation of nature through a creative outlet, then you’re on to something really, really special.

See more tips at Mental Health Foundation.

###
Originally Appeared Here