Connecting With Nature to Improve Mental Health

The theme of 2021’s Mental Health Week was Nature.

‘There is something to be wondered at in all of Nature’ – Aristotle

Mark Rowland, the Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundations explained why they chose Nature as this year’s theme.

Nature is central to our psychological and emotional health, and it’s almost impossible to achieve good mental health without a connection to the natural world. For much of human history, we have lived as part of nature. However, in the last five generations, there has been a separation from nature as many of us live and work in a way that means we are distanced from it.

During the recent pandemic and the long months of lockdown, millions returned to nature. Research into the mental health impact of the pandemic showed that going for walks was one of the top coping strategies. Also, websites that streamed footage of wildlife were a huge hit. Studies also showed that we not only spent more time in nature but we noticed it more.

During Mental Health Week, the Mental Health Foundation highlighted nature as our great untapped resource for mental health future. The aim is to inspire people to connect with nature in a new way and to convince decision makers to increase access and the quality of nature as part of a mental health and social justice issue, as well as an environmental one.

Top Tips for Connecting with Nature

Find nature wherever you are: it might be a garden, a local park, a beach, the countryside or a city community garden.

Connect with nature using all your senses: take some quiet time to experience your surroundings using all your senses, listen for birdsong, look for butterflies, smell the flowers. This can bring a sense of calm and joy.

Get out into nature: if you can, actively try to visit a natural space and spend time in nature. This can help you reduce your risk of mental health problems, lift your mood and help you feel better about things. Try going with a friend or family member.

Bring nature to you: sometimes it’s hard to get away, so having plants at home is a great way to bring nature into your daily life. You can also try connecting with nature through TV and film.

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