By Rachel Hewitt-Hall, Nature Therapist
The World Health Organisation predicts depression affects 350 million people and will be the second largest cause of ill health by the end of 2020. A shocking statistic. With mental health services overwhelmed, how can we help ourselves to keep a healthy mind?
The good news is there’s a simple solution that’s readily available to all of us, and it’s free – Nature!
Over the last 10 years there’s been an increased body of research into the healing effects of nature on our physical and mental wellbeing. The mental health charity, Mind, has developed an ‘Ecominds’ initiative which supports people to be active outdoors. Their ‘Feel Better Outside, Feel Better Inside’ report stated that 7 in 10 people reported that their mental wellbeing significantly increased by the time they left the project.
I personally love the outdoors and have always found being in nature a calming and grounding. Walking or cycling outdoors is the only time I feel truly connected to myself and the world around me; it gives me the space I crave to reflect, and all my senses are alert when I am walking the fells or in the woods.
With so much positivity around the benefits of nature, why do so many of us struggle to prioritise our own wellbeing, choosing to stay indoors and focus on our screens, rather than getting outside?
Here’s some simple steps you can take to enjoying the healing benefits of nature:
- Get Outside
Even in our major cities, there’s now plenty of green spaces to enjoy and all within a few minutes of your home or office. With many of us now working from home, it’s even more important we take a break from work and get outside. Stop to enjoy your surroundings with a picnic and some mindful eating or reading a good old-fashioned book! A digital detox while outdoors will further increase your levels of wellbeing.
2. Bring Nature Inside
Whether it’s images on the walls or fresh flowers, there’s simple ways you can introduce nature into your home or office environment that will have positive effects on everyone.
3. Get Creative!
There’s plenty you can do to have fun and play with nature; photography, painting and drawing, sculpture, poetry and journaling are just a few of the ways you can get creative with natural things. If you don’t fancy doing this yourself, why not visit a nature photography or art exhibition or visit a sculpture park. There’s a great book called ‘365 Nature: Projects To Connect With Nature Every Day’ that will give you a whole year’s worth of ideas to try!
4. Get a Dog!
During the global pandemic in 2020, there was a huge surge in the amount of people buying pets. There’s many health benefits to getting a dog, other than the fact that they give you a reason to get up and out into nature. They improve heart health, help stave of stress and depression, and they get you fitter and more active. If you haven’t got your own, why not borrow one. Organisations like borrowmydoggy.com give dog owners who are going away, the option of handing their precious pooch over to fellow dog lovers who may not have their own dogs, for them to look after.
There’s many more ways you can introduce nature and the healing effects is has into your life. Make a promise to yourself to try just one of these ideas.
When you take the time to develop your own relationship with nature, the benefits are not just for your own wellbeing, but in preserving the natural wonders of this world for generations to come!
Counsellor & Nature Therapist