This past year has been tricky, to say the least. We have all been confined to our homes, with many of us struggling to cope with our mental health. The theme for this year’s Mental Health Week is ‘Nature’, and so we’re looking to the great outdoors for inspiration when it comes to looking after our wellbeing.
Looking to Nature
Evidence shows that going for walks outside was one of the top coping strategies during lockdown and 45% of people reported that being in green spaces has been vital for their mental health throughout the pandemic.
However, many of us may face barriers that might stop us from connecting with nature. For example, you may be limited by your environment and access to outdoor space. Or you may be unused to spending time in green space and find it uncomfortable or unfamiliar. Here are a few ways in which you can get back to nature and use it as a way to improve your mental health.
Try spending just five minutes a day for the next week paying attention to nature in your everyday life. Just taking a brief moment to notice and celebrate nature can help you to be more present in your daily life – and you might be surprised by what you notice!
Do things you find relaxing
You might like to go for a walk, read or paint in natural surroundings. Remember, that being outdoors doesn’t always have to be exercising, sometimes just being is enough.
Ask for support
If you feel anxious in new places or social situations, you could ask someone you trust to go with you at first or you could even connect with others & share how you’re feeling. At Milton Keynes College, we provide a comprehensive support network for all students, ensuring that they have somewhere to go should they need it. For example, everyone at The College can access free online mental health support with our student support partners Togetherall, any time, any day. Whether you’re struggling to cope, feeling low or just need a place to talk, Togetherall can help you to explore your feelings in a safe supportive environment.
Bring nature indoors
If finding vast outside space isn’t geographically possible, or maybe it feels overwhelming at the moment, you could explore ways of bringing nature indoors. A small and simple way to bring nature inside can be buying flowers, or even taking photos of your favourite places in nature. Use these pictures as backgrounds on a mobile phone or computer screen as a reminder of those relaxing moments you have captured.
We all have different experiences of nature, and different reasons for wanting to connect with it more. This Mental Health Awareness Week we invite you to #ConnectWithNature and share what this means for you.