Mental Health Awareness Week
06 May 2021
Our planet provides us with everything we need to survive – food, water, clean air, energy and shelter. It is the foundation of our very existence.
But nature also provides us with other important, less visible benefits. Spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It has also been revealed that enjoying our natural surroundings can reduce stress and improve sleep leading to happier, healthier lives. (https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/full/10.1289/ehp1663)
Being outside in natural light can also be helpful if you experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that affects people during particular seasons or times of year.
However, many of us fail to reap these benefits. For most of human history, we lived as part of nature. It is only in the last five generations that so many of us have lived and worked in a context that is largely separated from nature. For most people in the UK, regularly spending time in nature is the exception rather than the rule. Urbanisation and increased screen time, amongst other factors, means that we spend the majority of our time indoors.
Spending time outside or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. For example, doing things like growing your own vegetables, plants or flowers, exercising outdoors or being around animals can have lots of positive effects such as
- improve your mood
- reduce feelings of stress or anger
- help you take time out and feel more relaxed
- improve your physical health
- improve your confidence and self-esteem
- help you be more active
During Mental Health Awareness Week, we are asking you to do three things:
- Experience nature: take time to recognise and grow your connection with nature during the week. By taking a moment, you might be surprised by what you notice!
- Share nature: take a photo, video or sound recording and share the connections you’ve made during the week, to inspire others. Join the discussion on how you’re connecting with nature by using the hashtags #ConnectWithNature #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
- Talk about nature: visit mentalhealth.org.uk/mhaw and use tips, school packs, research and policy guides to discuss in your family, school, workplace and community of how you can help encourage people to find new ways to connect with nature in your local environment.
For more information about this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week visit mentalhealth.org.uk/mhaw or join the conversation on social media using #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
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