27 days to go
This week is dedicated as mental health awareness week and the theme for this year is nature. The pandemic over the past year has strained everyone mentally and emotionally and one way many have dealt with this has been to get outside. During lockdown, in the area I live the trails, lanes, canal and riverside were visited regularly by more people than I’ve ever seen on my daily runs. People taking the opportunity to take themselves and their children out for their allotted daily exercise.
One of the goals of mental health awareness week is to inspire people to connect with nature in new ways and to notice the impact this can have on their mental health. Here are things that I have noticed.
The mental health benefits of being outside in nature are many. Walking itself is a great healer, the act of walking in fresh air help turn over pebbles in the mind allowing you to see problems differently and to devise solutions. The rhythm of walking is soothing. Then there are the things that stimulate senses evoking emotions or curiosity. A lane I pass along has amongst other things honeysuckle hidden within the other hedgerow plants. I rarely see the flowers but the smell is glorious. After the rain there is the nice earthy smell known as petrichor, quite unlike other smells.
In 51 days to go I talked about the benefits of enjoying scenic views. On a regular route you might appreciate the changing colours with the seasons. Stand at a field gate and let your mind slow as the animals graze, they can be calming to watch especially at this time of year with so many newborn and young around. Being near moving water can have the same effect as walking, helping turn over those pebbles and thoughts, as does lying on your back in the sun and watching the clouds move or leaves on a tree gently blowing in the breeze. Spend a while looking at stiller waters and the many insects zipping about their business dipping in and out or skating about and occasionally catch sight of graceful dragonflies.
You’re never alone as if you stop and listen you’ll hear plenty, whether the farm animals or the many birds often not seen in the trees and hedges around you. You can even tell from their utterings what time of day it is. They have a ‘busy’ sort of chatter going on in the morning which lessens during the day. And, the evening has a ‘settling down’ sound all of its own shared by animals and birds alike and probably the one I hear most returning from a day in the hills – it tells me all is well with the world…..at least at that moment.
Information on mental health awareness week can be found at mentalhealth.org.uk
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