It has been a very long year and a lot of us have been tested in many ways, one of the biggest tests has been upon our mental health. As we are coming out of, what is hopefully, our final lockdown the mental health foundation has decided to theme this year’s mental health awareness week around ‘nature’. It is a salute to the way many of us have been using the outdoors to help manage some of the challenges we have faced.
There are plenty of benefits of being outside in nature, including being able to be ‘present and mindful’ of the beauties this world has to offer. Nature also has the unique ability to not only bring consolation in times of stress, but also increase our creativity, empathy and a sense of wonder to our complex brains.
Unfortunately, not everyone has had the ability to be that close to nature, nonetheless they have made the most of their surroundings by being outside and taking in the fresh air. The simplicity of being outdoors and simply seeing the sunshine has helped many of us.
Most people I have spoken to over the past year have suggested that they have implemented a daily walk and have said that it has been a saving grace. Whether you have been lucky enough to be in rural or remote surroundings, or if you live in a built-up town or in the suburbs, just simply stepping outside to take time in the fresh air come rain or shine has boosted many people’s mental health.
The simple, honest and scientific truth is that being outdoors has many benefits including an increase in Vitamin D as well as hormones such as Serotonin, Dopamine and Oxytocin. These help to boost our mood and enable us to see the positives, couple this with the good old effect of fresh air and it is easy to understand why stepping outside for a walk makes us feel much better. All of this plays a role in our health and wellbeing. Many of us have used the opportunity of being allowed out for exercise as a chance to take in nature and become more active which essentially produces endorphins to boost the happy hormones we thrive off.
Another way in which some people have been able to appreciate the nature around them and use it to their advantage to boost their mood is by meeting friends and family on socially distanced, safe, walks. Which many people, young or old, employed or unemployed have made the most of.
With all this in mind the mental health foundation makes this point:
‘many of us are not accessing or benefitting from nature. Teenagers in particular appear to be less connected with nature and around 13% of UK households have no access to a garden’
Considering the rise in suicide rates amongst young people, this statement for me is scary and something we need to help change.
So, what can we do?
Let us see if we can, for the mental health week or even for the month of May, get outside in nature every day. The mental health foundation challenges you to experience, share these moments and talk to people about nature. The aim is to build awareness of the effects that nature has on our minds and bodies 🙂
To find out more about how we can help you and your employees get in touch with us here.