What does connecting with nature mean to you?
Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) is a nationwide yearly event, created by the Mental Health Foundation 21 years ago, that focuses on achieving good mental health. Each year the Mental Health Foundation set a different theme, connected to improving, and achieving better mental health. This year, the Mental Health Foundation have made 'Nature' the theme. Their aim is to encourage people to share how nature has supported their mental health, especially throughout the past year of lockdowns.
Spending quality time with nature can reduce stress, balance your mood and help you feel more positive. During the pandemic, millions of us have turned to nature. Research conducted by the Mental Health Foundation showed going for walks outside was one of the top coping strategies and 45% of people reported that being in ‘green spaces’ had been vital for better mental health.
Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation said, "In the first lockdown, I called an elderly friend. She lives alone and had recently had a fall. Separated from her community, she had lost all in-person contact. When I asked her how she had got through it, she told me it was taking daily comfort from watching the birds sing to each other on the fence and the flowers re-emerge from the frosts of winter."
Ways to Get Involved
Getting involved could be something as a simple as tending to a house plant, listening to the birds, touching the bark of trees, smelling flowers or writing a poem about our favourite nature spot. We’ve collated some of our favourite ways to connect with nature for you to try throughout the week (10-16th May).
Join the ‘Take Action, Get Active’ Challenge
Throughout the month of May, take part in half an hour of exercise a day, outdoors to support the Mental Health Foundation. Complete the 30 minutes a day, your way, you can jog, walk, skip, sit – be as creative as you like!
Encourage Wildlife Into Your Garden
No matter how big or how small your garden is, you can help the wildlife around you. Even if your garden is on a balcony, there are plenty of ways you can encourage birds and bees with window feeders and bug boxes.
Grow Your Own Fruit & Veg
Nothing beats the taste of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs grown from your own garden. Not only do you get to enjoy that, you also get the enjoyment of doing it, and connecting with nature.
Birdwatch From Your Home
Download our birdwatching bingo sheet and see how many high flyers you can spot!
Walk a Nature Trail or Reserve
Find a local nature trail or reserve and enjoy a 30-60 minute walk around, taking in the nature surrounding you. If you’re keen photographer, why not take the camera along and snap some photos along the way?
We would love to see what you get up to as part of MHAW – tag us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and use the hashtags #AbbeyfieldMHAW, #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.