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Nature is the theme of this year’s mental health awareness week

Mental health awareness week (10th – 16th May 2021) 

Mental health awareness week is an annual event that provides an opportunity for the UK to focus on good mental health. It’s about encouraging people to start conversations on what mental health is, why it’s important and how things in our daily lives can affect it. The Mental Health Foundation have chosen nature as the theme for this year’s mental health awareness week, and are asking people to think about connecting with nature to improve our mental health.

Why nature?

Nature has always been central to our physical, psychological and emotional health, but over the last year, it has become more important than ever as people have turned to nature during the pandemic.

Research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic conducted by the Mental Health Foundation showed that going for walks outside was one of the top coping strategies, with 45% of us reporting that being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health during these challenging times.

The benefits of connecting with nature

Connecting with nature can:

  • Reduce feelings of social isolation;

  • Lower stress and anxiety;

  • Lessen the negative brain activity;

  • Help you to feel more relaxed;

  • Improve confidence and self-esteem.

Top tips for connecting with nature

  • Find nature wherever you are – enjoy the natural surroundings in a nearby park, garden, courtyard, woods, countryside etc.

  • Bring nature to you – have plants around the house, or if you have access to a balcony, garden or allotment think about growing plants, flowers, vegetables, or getting a bird feeder.

  • Exercise in nature – if you enjoy exercising, why not try and do it outside. You could walk, run, cycle, or hike. You can do this by yourself for a quiet time of self-reflection, or with friends as a fun group activity.

  • Combine nature and creativity – take part in creative activities outside such as art or music. You can increase your connection to nature by taking photos, writing, drawing, or painting.

  • Protect nature – taking care of something can help you to feel good. You could recycle, or join a local community conservation or clean-up and do your part to help look after the environment.

How the Bailey Ahmad team have been connecting with nature

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Rebecca Craig, Client Support Manager

“I enjoy going for long walks and runs in my local parks and out in the countryside, and I make sure I do this at least three times a week. I find exercising outdoors has really benefitted my mental health during the last year as it calms me down, takes away any stress I may be feeling and generally improves my mood. I like to take my time when I’m on my walks/runs so I can take in my surroundings, take photos and appreciate the small things around me”.

(Picture above) Rebecca on a long Sunday walk in the woods in Westerham

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Tony Connor, Manager

I love going for a walk outside and I always feel better for it. I have a 10,000 steps per day target to maintain – my current streak is 306 days!”

(Picture above) Sunrise over Riddlesdown on one of Tony’s morning walks

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Sarah Broom, Client Manager

“I love to go for a walk over the downs at lunchtime with Ruby our six-year-old rescue dog. It’s really important to me as I love the exercise, it clears my head, gets me away from my desk and I can focus on the simple things in life such as spending time with a really cute dog!”

(Picture above) Sarah’s dog Ruby on one of their lunch time walks

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Harrison Jacques, Case Administrator

“Cycling keeps us healthy, helps us connect and sets us free. It didn’t take long for me to catch the cycling bug. Many memories have been made from being a cyclist now for over 5 yrs. The latest adventure was a trip into South Wales, the photo was taken with some close friends crossing the Severn Bridge”.  

(Picture above) Harrison and his friends crossing the Severn Bridge

Mental health organisations

Find out more about mental health awareness week and the benefits of nature here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

If you are struggling with your mental health, reach out to friends and family for support. There are also several organisations that offer help and support. Please find a list below:

Please note that we are not mental health professionals; this blog is for general information and interest only. If you need help and support with your mental health, please contact one of the organisations above.