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Spending time in nature, immersing yourself in the calmness and serenity of the outdoors and the natural elements, has been found to help with mental health and wellbeing. For almost… Continue Reading…

Mother Nature Knows Best

Spending time in nature, immersing yourself in the calmness and serenity of the outdoors and the natural elements, has been found to help with mental health and wellbeing. For almost all of existence, mankind has had a relationship with nature in some form or other. While in recent generations, more of us are living and working in a context that is more separated from nature, it is nonetheless innate within us to feel connected to the natural world.

For many, the events of the past year have in fact presented an opportunity for people to connect or reconnect with nature in ways they’d not done before, or had been too busy to appreciate. The global pandemic forced us to pause, slow-down and with many amnesties within society closed, actually connect with our surroundings and simpler things. According to the Mental Health Foundation, their recent study into wellbeing during the pandemic showed going for walks outside was one of the top coping strategies, with 45% reporting that being in green spaces had been vital for their mental health. When all the facilities people tend to call on for entertainment were restricted, many were able to find solace and comfort in nature, providing them with a means to almost rationalise the ongoing distress around us. From the vibrant yet soft colours, to the shapes of the landscape and relieving silence in a busy world of commotion, connecting with nature helped many to endure an unimaginably tough year.

With this in mind, the theme of mental health awareness week this year is ‘Nature’, aiming to encourage more people to connect with the natural world in new ways, and highlight the impact that this connection can have on mental wellbeing. We asked Dee Johnson, accredited psychotherapist, for her thoughts on the benefit of nature to mental health:

‘One of the many benefits I experience and encourage with my clients is that it is a non-pressurised, non-judgmental space. A place where you can just be (for free!), with no fear of harsh or negative judgment, no need to pretend. Nature is about being our natural self – what we wear, earn, look like etc puts so many punitive conditions of worth and acceptance on people, yet when in nature we are just ourselves, accepted, free from the opinion of others and this has a levelling effect.

Being around nature, from a walk in a park, taking time to really focus on the intricate formation of a flower, or digging your hands into the soil of a window box, encourages us be more mindful and appreciative of what we have and what is going on right now, as opposed to getting lost in scattered thoughts of stress and anxiety. The sensorial responses awaken us, as nature is about taking in images, texture, aromas, sounds and sensations, things that we take for granted. By noticing what is around us, it calms and balances, and can help sharpen up our observational and creative skills.

It can also help us feel more connected to our surroundings and even ourselves, which when we are struggling at times, that disconnect is a scary and lonely place to be. So just standing with bare feet on cool soft grass, feeling sea spray on your face or hearing the call of bird, lets us know there is life and we are not alone’

So, for this mental health awareness week seize an opportunity to appreciate the outdoors. Whether it is simply taking your coffee break outside for ten minutes or spending an hour of your evening gardening or enjoying a socially-distanced picnic. If you can, dedicate some time to nature and the tranquillity of the natural world, reflect on how this allows you to detach from the hectic reality of day-to-day life, and take a moment to reconnect by disconnecting.

By Ellie Giardina

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A Room in Town,
Head Office,
8/10 Hallam Street,
London,
W1W 6NS