This Mental Health Awareness Week the theme is nature, and we’re asking everyone to find a way to connect with nature that works for them!
There’s no hiding from the fact the last year has been difficult on everyone’s mental health – with many people’s outlets for their wellbeing, like gyms, indoor sports, and spaces to connect with others closing overnight
During the long months of the pandemic, we turned to nature in our millions. Research from the Mental Health Foundation shows that during lockdown going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies, with over 45% of us reporting that being in green spaces was essential for our wellbeing. The evidence shows that not only were we spending more time in nature but that we were noticing it more than before
So, this Mental Health Awareness Week we’re asking you to try and do one thing every day to connect you with nature. This doesn’t have to be going outside, or even leaving the house as we want to show that even small contact with nature can reduce feelings of isolation and be effective in protecting our mental health and preventing disease
We’ve put together a list of ideas from our staff and service users to get you started, but you can try anything that works for you!
1. Bring nature inside
Many of us in London do not have access to a garden, but this doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy nature inside our own home. If you haven’t already why not get a house plant, or grow your own mini herb garden on your kitchen window?
Having plants at home needn’t be expensive, if you can’t afford seeds or to buy a new houseplant there’s lots of groups on Facebook where people give away plant cuttings or pot plants looking for a new home, just type in ‘free plants London’ to get you started
2. Try a live stream
If you’re still a little anxious about getting outside as lockdown eases you could try a live stream. There’s loads out there, which are all free to access online, and you can transport across the globe in a second. Some of our favourites are Window Swap, The San Diego Zoo live streams of animal enclosures and Edinburgh Zoo
3. Check what’s going on in your community
With many of us not having access to a garden, community gardens are becoming increasingly popular, with London having the largest concentration of any UK City. A quick search on this website will show you your nearest one, with info on how to get involved
4. Watch a nature documentary
Recent studies have shown that even short bursts of watching nature shows can have a positive effect on our emotions and decrease anxiety levels. Research from the University of Exeter shows that these kinds of programmes can counteract the boredom associated with being isolated indoors. You don’t need to have an expensive subscription service to access these programmes as BBC Iplayer offers them on-demand, as well as other programmes like Spring Watch.
5. Create a bird feeding platform near a window
You needn’t buy an expensive bird feeder or birdseed to enjoy the birds local to your home. It could be as easy as sprinkling some oats or vegetable cuttings on your window ledge or making a bird feeder out of some scraps of wood
Make sure to check out our Twitter page for updates on what we’re getting up to in the community this Mental Health Awareness Week!