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Research showed going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health during this last year. Websites which showed footage from webcams of wildlife saw hits increase by over 2000%. Wider studies also found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were noticing it more.

Nature and our mental health

Nature is so central to our psychological and emotional health, that it’s almost impossible to realise good mental health for all without a greater connection to the natural world. For most of human history, we lived as part of nature. It is only in the last five generations that so many of us have lived and worked in a context that is largely separated from nature. And it is only since a 1960s study in the US found that patients who were treated in hospitals with a view of nature recovered faster, that science has started to unpack the extraordinary health benefits.

In summary nature is proven to;

  • Reduce stress
  • Balance your mood
  • Help feel more positive

So how can you get involved

As part of Mental Health Week Fit4wellbeing wants to involve you and your family in experiencing more of nature.

During Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we want to hear how you and your family have got involved. This could be anything from;

  • Listening to the birds sing
  • Grow a herb garden or grow a plant
  • Seeing flowers blossom
  • Tending to a house plant/ grow a plant
  • Writing a poem about nature
  • Taking a 30 minute walk in the park

We would love to see pictures and videos sent in to us of your experiences. Some of the best ones will be uploaded to our social media sites, as well as our website, so other people on our network can share your experiences as well as you see theirs. A great way of connecting! Email these to [email protected] as we will be continuing to share these throughout Mental Health Awareness Week.

We will pull together the evidence  from you and your families that demonstrates the powerful benefits of nature for our mental health. We will look at nature’s unique ability to not only bring consolation in times of stress, but also increase our creativity, empathy and a sense of wonder. It turns out that it is not just being in nature but how we open ourselves up and interact with nature that counts. We will show that even small contacts with nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and be effective in protecting our mental health, and preventing distress.

Nature is our great untapped resource for a mentally healthy future.

Despite this, many of us are not accessing or benefitting from nature. Teenagers in particular appear to be less connected with nature and around 13% of UK households have no access to a garden. We want to challenge the disparities in who is and who isn’t able to experience nature. Nature is not a luxury. It is a resource that must be available for everyone to enjoy – as basic as having access to clean water or a safe roof over our heads. Local and national governments need to consider their role in making this a reality for everyone.

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