This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the theme is all about nature, something I think most people have turned to, perhaps for the first time or more so, since the pandemic started. I know I have! I have always loved nature, from days as a child either gardening with my Dad (he used to give my sister and I a section of the garden to care for) to cycling around the country lanes when we’d go to Norfolk for the weekend. At the weekend, I will happily lose myself in the garden for several hours … I find weeding relaxing!
Since the pandemic started back in early 2020, I turned to nature even more. I started walking every morning in my local Epping Forest which I am fortunate to have right on my doorstep and it has stayed as part of my morning routine:
· Get up
· Drink a glass of water
· Feed the cat
· Lace up my trainers and get out the door
No headphones, no calling a mate or my Mum, just me and ‘my forest’.
I have always been a morning person, so I relish this ‘alone time’. Occasionally I may see a dog walker or jogger, but some days I can walk and not see a soul. I have also loved seeing the forest change through the seasons, from the thick mud and snow to the signs of Spring and my favourite, the woodpeckers!
My morning walk sets me up for the day. I get to think about the day ahead and be in a calm state before I logon to see clients. It also enables me to find calm when I have struggled to cope with the pandemic and not being able to see family and friends (a few tears have been shed over the last year or soon my stomps), or find motivation or inspiration to tackle work. With friends too, they often ask if they can come over ‘for a forest stomp’ and we’ll walk and talk for hours and put the world to rights.
For nature is so central to our psychological and emotional health, but you don’t have to go for a walk. You can literally look out the window! Go on, try it now.
LOOK UP … WHAT CAN YOU CAN SEE?
PERHAPS A BIRD FLYING BY?
THE COLOURS OF THE LEAVES ON THE TREES?
WHAT ABOUT ANY CLOUDS IN THE SKY?
I am always actively encouraging my clients to get outside, even if it’s for just 10 minutes. Our brains need rest as much as our bodies, and nature is free, on your doorstep and taps into all of your senses! So, whether you live in a city or the countryside, nature is all around. You just need to look for it.
The Mental Health Foundation have a brilliant free guide you can download here to find out more about Thriving With Nature.
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