Mental Health Awareness Week

takes place 10th—16th May and this year the theme is nature.

There is clear evidence that nature helps keep us healthy and can improve recovery from both mental and physical conditions: as far back as the 60s we discovered patients recovering from operations do so more quickly when they can see nature. The week will be an opportunity to open our eyes to the power of nature for our health.

What nature ideas could you try?
  • Going for a 20-minute walk as early as possible (or within 2 hrs of waking) being outside in natural light soon after we wake-up alerts sets our circadian clock, it suppresses melatonin (makes us snoozy) and increases serotonin (a mood enhancer), so helps us sleep better at night and feel better in the day, it’s worth tweaking your routine for these benefits! If you can make it brisk, you’ll be reducing risk of heart disease too.
  • Volunteer to help the local environment or animal charity or as it is Local and Community History Month too, why not explore your local area?
  • Grow something – gardening has proven benefits both outside and inside.
  • Walk your dog – if you haven’t got one, borrow one! –
  • Finally, there is evidence to show just looking at natural images or listening to natural sounds calms us.

Don’t worry if some ideas don’t feel right for you – see if you can find some that do or adapt one to suit you.

How can you overcome barriers?
  • Start small —for example spend 5 minutes paying attention to nature every day, do it at the same time each day, for example doing an activity when you get home from work each day or with your morning cuppa becomes part of your routine, it becomes a habit and therefore happens without effort.
  • Do things you find relaxing — stargazing, bird watching (or listening) or sitting under a tree.
  • Consider company — this may be a time when you want to be on your own or you may want company, for support and or to help make it happen!
  • Plan ahead—for example, get your trainers by the door at night so you go straight out in the morning.
  • During the week just take a moment to enjoy the nature around you.
Check out these websites for more ideas: