Mental Health Awareness Week
10 – 16 May
Barefoot on the grass, slowing walking forward. You open your arms to the sides looking up and feel the warm light on your face. The light breeze in the air with the birds flying above all of this giving you a calming sensation that overflows you. After a very busy week behind you, this is all you have been waiting for.
Some of us do not know or might not understand how important nature is in our lives. Not only for us to enjoy the beautiful view and the wonderful colours, but also for our health and wellbeing. According to Paul de Zylva, “dramatic landscapes fire our imagination, fill our hearts and put our lives into perspective”.
German physician Paracelsus said in the 16th century “The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician.” With a lot of research and studies done by scholars and practitioners, we know that nature can soothe mental health conditions and reduce stress. Nature has been a healing tool for all ages and can benefit each in its own way. The impact of nature is greater than ever. Looking at some of the studies that have been done on the connection of nature and health according to the article on Texan by Nature (click on the link to read the full study).
Finding #2: Spending 20 to 30 minutes a day in nature can significantly reduce stress levels by producing a drop in cortisol (“the stress hormone”) by nearly 2 times greater than in people who spend no time in nature. Learn more: Urban Nature Experiences Result in Lowered Levels of the Stress Hormone, Cortisol (Research by MaryCarol Hunter)
Finding #3: Nature can also potentially reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing stress levels. Learn more: Signs of Stress in the Brain May Signal Future Heart Trouble (Research by Ahmed Tawakol, et al)
Finding #4: Compared to urban experience, nature experience leads to significant decreases in anxiety and improvement in mental health. Learn more: The Benefits of Nature Experience: Improved Affect and Cognition (Research by Gregory Bratman, Gretchen C. Daily, Benjamin J. Levy, James J. Gross)
With nature as the theme of the year for The Mental Health Foundation, they will focus on their own stories and studies to explain why they believe nature has had the biggest effect on the community with the lockdown. The Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 helps us to appreciate the importance of our surroundings. “It turns out that it is not just being in nature but how we open ourselves up and interact with nature that counts.”- The Mental Health Foundation. During the Mental Health Awareness week of 2021, they are going to reveal evidence of the power of nature and its benefits. The Mental Health Foundation has two clear goals they would like to achieve during this week and want to connect with the country at all levels. Their first goal is to “inspire more people to connect with nature” and second “access to nature is a mental health and social justice issue as well as an environmental one.”
The Mental Health Foundation has an event ‘Take Action, Get Active’ that will take place for the rest of May. You can join them in this and be part of the half an hour exercise a day. You can run, jog, go for a walk or even skip in nature, and if you sign up for the challenge, they will be alongside you. You can go read more on this event by using this link click here.
For a small exercise, in this link, you will find a downloadable PDF to a journal created by Mental Health Foundation. Use this to write down how you feel before and after you have gone out into nature, document anything that you found interesting you experienced during that time.
During Mental Health Awareness week let us focus on the three things that you can do to connect with nature. Share your stories, share your experience, and together we can have better health and wellbeing.
Experience nature: take time to recognise and grow your connection with nature during the week. Take a moment to notice and celebrate nature in your daily life. 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: use our tips, school packs, research and policy guides to discuss in your family, school, workplace and community how you can help encourage people to find new ways to connect with nature in your local environment.