How nature can help with your mental health
Mental Health Awareness Week starts on the 10th of May and this year’s theme is nature. To re-think how you connect with nature our Young Ambassador Natalie has created this 7-day checklist designed to show you lots of different ways you can use nature to benefit your wellbeing.
Getting outside can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress, anger, anxiety and make you feel more relaxed. Just looking out of the window for a few moments can take you out of your own head. Maybe there is be a squirrel looking for its nuts or a pigeon strutting around on the grass!
Nature can also inspire creativity and is another outlet that can improve our mood. So, get outside, take a pen, paper, and breathe. Remember if you can’t get outside you can always bring nature indoors. For example, just listening to nature sounds inside has a calming effect. This makes the brain focus on what is going on around you, drawing attention away from whatever is happening internally.
Natalie hopes you enjoy doing this 7-day Nature Challenge and that it inspires you to explore nature and the benefits it can have on your wellbeing.
· Grow something: this could be grown outside in the garden or inside, such as on a window sill.
· Draw, paint or take pictures of an outside space/plants/animals.
· Arrange a comfortable place to sit indoors or outdoors and observe what is going on outside. You could take notes of the weather, animals, plants etc.
· Make a collage of things found in nature. To do this you could hunt in a local outside space like your garden or head to a local spot, such as a forest or woodland to collect things to include.
· Go for a beach walk – breathe in the sea air and if you have a chance, pick up some rubbish and help keep our local beaches clean.
· Make and hang a bird feeder. Check out this one the RSPB have made: Make a Recycled Bird Feeder | Fun Activities for Kids – The RSPB. As a next step you could record the birds that have visited your birdfeeder.
· Eat a meal outside, you could pack up a picnic and eat it in a green space, down the beach, or just take your dinner out into the garden (if you have one).
Want more? Have a go at the 5 senses challenge
· For this challenge, all you need is your 5 senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. (If you can’t find something to taste substitute in naming one thing that you like about your surroundings.)
· You need to find one thing for each sense, e.g., the smell of freshly cut grass, or, the sound of birds chirping.
· This challenge could also be used as a grounding technique if you are feeling anxious or worried. By finding something for each sense you will identify elements around you and this will take away from the rush of anxiety you are feeling, slow your heart rate, control your breathing, and make you feel better overall.
Thank you to our Young Ambassador Natalie for this great blog with some helpful ideas to get you out in nature this mental health awareness week.
Need more support?
If you are a young person struggling with your mental health you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about the support we can offer you. This includes support groups, counselling and befriending. Read more about these on our services page.