Connecting with nature for Mental Health Awareness Week
This week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and the theme for this year is nature. There is a proven link between nature and our mental health: research from the Mental Health Foundation showed that, during lockdown, people found going outside for walks and being in green spaces vital for their mental health.
This week we’ve been inviting you to immerse yourself in the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ and reconnect with nature. These five ways – Take Notice, Be Active, Connect, Learn and Give – are thought to help improve mental health. Every day this week we’ve been sharing information on the 65 High Street instagram channel about local ways you can bring nature into your everyday.
To take notice means to actively think about the moment we are in and notice what’s happening around us.
Think about the moment you are in right now. Take time to note your surroundings, the noises you can hear and the simple, beautiful things you can see. Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place right now and savouring ‘the moment’ (often known as ‘mindfulness’) can contribute to a positive mental state.
Mental health charity Mind suggest a few simple ways of taking notice in everyday life:
- Walk around your neighbourhood. Walk with a purpose, not just getting from A to B and think about what you see and hear.
- Look for beauty in the unexpected: look out for colours, textures, shapes, reflections in water, shadows. Look down, look up, and look along.
- Get creative and take pictures with a camera, try to capture the moment.
Local charity North Somerset Wellbeing have weekly mindfulness groups (currently online) that you can join and explore how mindful meditations, body scans and breathing exercises can help to relax your body and mind. Visit the North Somerset Wellbeing website or email NSWellbeing@second-step.co.uk to find out more.
- Strawberry Cycles – Hire bikes and ride the Strawberry Line. From the same team that run the Strawberry Line Cafe at Yatton Station, the ‘Cycle Minded’ project is about getting out and about and connecting with nature. There’ll be guided, community cycle rides along the Strawberry Line on Thursday mornings at 10.30am and 11.30am, and on Tuesday evenings from 6pm. You can bring your own bike or use one of theirs. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07983 816 426 to find out more.
- Walk for Health Walks – Join Ramblers Walking for Health on Mondays at 10.30am. These short walks are assisted by specially trained volunteers who are on hand to provide encouragement and support. Find out more here: https://www.walkingforhealth.org.uk/…/north-somerset…
- Join a club – there are all sorts of clubs and activities going on in Nailsea. Search for the NAILSEA ACTIVE group on Facebook to find out more.
Spending time connecting with others, especially during these times, is massively important for our mental health. There are a number of groups locally that run sessions to help people connect with others and nature:
- Local Walk & Talks – mental health charity We are Aware run regular walks for people to enjoy gentle exercise together and connect with the outside world. Email email@example.com to find out more.
- FrIenDs Together provide a safe and creative environment for people who are feeling isolated, lonely or living with an invisible illness.
- Kooth is a 24/7 free platform for 10-18 year olds, providing anonymous and personalised support. They’ve put together a Nature Vibes playlist over on Spotify that’s worth listening to. Just search for ‘Kooth_UK.
Learning something new can improve your wellbeing and provide a sense of achievement, and there are lots nature-based learning opportunities in our local area:
- Creative art for wellbeing – learn a new art skill like Zentangle, hosted here on Youtube by North Somerset Wellbeing.
- Outdoor College run a number of courses that help us learn how to live, work and learn in harmony with our natural environment. They have a nature connection day coming up soon on Weds 26 May that looks at nature based mindfulness. Book your space here.
- Create Together with Nature – a new course at Bournville, WSM that weaves nature with creativity to support better mental health. Find out more here.
People who give their time to community activities that help others are more likely to rate themselves as happy, says mental health charity Mind.
We live in a town surrounded by beautiful countryside and nature and there are a number of local nature-based initiatives that work hard to keep it looking great. If you have time to give, we are sure they will welcome new volunteers:
- If you are green-fingered, why not help the Nailsea in Bloom team keep various beds and displays across the town looking great. Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
- Join Nailsea Community Litter Heroes on one of their regular litter picks and help keep our town free of litter. The next event is Saturday 5 June – just turn up at 10am at 26 Somerset Square and they can give you all the equipment you need.
- Nailsea Environment & Wildlife Trust (NEWT) own and look after the Moorend Spout Nature Reserve, opposite the schools on Pound Lane. Their volunteer group tend to the site on the first Saturday in each month. Find out more about helping NEWT here.
If you are struggling with your mental health, 24/7 Support & Connect is a confidential helpline staffed by experienced counsellors, who you can talk to and they will listen. They will offer emotional support and can connect you to organisations available in Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire.