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Five ways nature can support your mental health
There is no doubt that the power of being out in nature has been more widely recognised over the past year. Spending time in the great outdoors has many benefits, from enhancing both physical and mental wellbeing, to sparking creativity and promoting relaxation - all of which has a positive impact on quality of life and feelings of success and productivity.
In support of our #endthestigma Green Ribbon Campaign we are sharing here, 5 ways nature can support your mental health:
It can bring a greater sense of peace
Sitting, walking, running - just being in nature - has been shown to hugely benefit mental wellbeing. The ancient art of Forest Bathing (known as Shinrin Yoku in Japan) is where you simply spend time in nature and absorb it with all five senses. This has been shown to improve stress levels, help you unplug from technology and boost your mood and overall health. The beauty of nature is that you don’t have to DO anything to reap the rewards, simply spending time amongst it is enough.
It connects you to the seasons
While we are always quick to complain about the weather in the UK, there is something exhilarating about experiencing the many different seasons of nature. Noticing the changes in the seasons - even if it is simply in a local park or garden - helps us to become more present and more aware of the natural evolution of what is going on around us.
We can take that a little further and really acknowledge the different feelings that a season gives us and how we can use that to support our own self care. The new excitement of spring growth, the high energy of summer, the falling away of the leaves in autumn, and the darker, more barren viewpoint of winter - when we live in more close relationship with the seasons we can begin to work in a more harmonious way that supports our mental and physical wellbeing. Consider how your mood is impacted by the seasons, and investigate how you could listen to what that is telling you about the ways in which you could take care of your mental health.
It can help recalibrate your internal balance
It might sound a bit eccentric, but walking or standing on the ground has been shown to support physical and mental health in many ways. When we spend a lot of time in rubber soled shoes, walking on concrete, driving, sitting at desks… and NOT connecting to the earth - we can end up feeling disconnected, overly analytical and anxious - both of which can have a detrimental effect on our mental wellbeing.
The theory of ‘grounding’ or ‘earthing’ is that the earth carries a mildly negative charge, so when we come into direct contact with it, any positive charge that has built up in the body can be neutralised. When we don’t have this connection, our health can become affected because of the build up of positive electrical charge.
All you need to do is simply take your shoes and socks off and place your feet directly onto the earth (it can be the smallest patch of grass or ground). Walk, stand, sit for a while - and see how you feel.
It can support a healthy environment
While it isn’t always possible to get outside and enjoy being in nature, you can always bring nature inside to you, whether that is by having a plant on your desk at work, playing nature sounds or having imagery of the natural world on your walls.
Looking after plants in your home or work space is particularly supportive to mental health, benefits include: improved mood, reduced stress, enhanced productivity and better concentration levels. Visually bringing plants into your environment can bring colour and inspiration and there is also growing research to suggest that they help to improve air quality.
It might spark your inner adventurer
When life becomes monotonous and mundane, it can be easy to become a little flat and deflated - however getting outside in the great outdoors and exploring somewhere new often sparks a new sense of inspiration and excitement. Seeing new spaces, interacting with different plants and trees, listening to different sounds, watching birds and animals - all of these can reinvigorate your sense of curiosity and spark a sense of awe.
Try and get to a new place in nature whenever you can, or whenever you feel yourself feeling a little stuck in your ways - and see what the great outdoors can inspire within you.
Along with nature one of the most powerful ways we can support mental health is by opening up conversation and compassionate awareness. This might be sharing your story with others to help spark connection, or simply by taking part in our Green Ribbon Campaign this Mental Health Awareness Week. By simply giving a Green Ribbon you are letting someone know that you are open and understanding of the challenges of mental health. Help end the stigma of mental health for everyone, everywhere.
You can find out more about the Green Ribbon campaign here