Mental Health Awareness Week - May 2021

Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event when there is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. The event has grown to become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK and globally. It is all about starting conversations about mental health and the things in our daily lives that can affect it.?

This year the theme is nature because being in nature is known to be an effective way of tackling mental health problems and of protecting our wellbeing.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, during long months of the pandemic, millions of us turned to nature. Our research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic 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. 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.

Here are the Mental Health Foundation’s Top Tips for connecting with nature


1 Find nature wherever you are
 
Nature is all around us. It might be a garden, a local park, a nearby beach or open countryside. Even in cities where nature can be harder to find, there’s things community gardens or courtyards to discover and explore. Look out for the unexpected – an urban fox on your way out for the early shift, changes in the weather or birdsong outside your window. Try to notice nature wherever you are, in whatever way is meaningful for you. 

2 Get out into nature
 
If you can, try to spend time visiting natural places - green spaces like parks, gardens or forests – or blue spaces like the beach, rivers and wetlands. This can help you reduce your risk of mental health problems, lift your mood and help you feel better about things. If it feels daunting to get outside, try going with a friend or relative, or picking somewhere familiar.  

3 Get out to excercise

If you're physically able to exercise, try to do it outside – whether it’s a run, cycle or a short walk. Walking or running outdoors in nature may help to prevent or reduce feelings of anger, tiredness and sadness. Try leaving the headphones at home – unless you’re listening to nature sounds of course! Or why not try new routes that bring you closer to green spaces or water? 

4 Bring nature to you 

Sometimes it’s hard to access natural places because of where you live, how busy you are, how safe you feel or your health. Why not try bringing nature into your home? Having plants in the house is a great way to have something natural to see, touch and smell – pots of herbs from the supermarket are a good start. 
If you have a garden, allotment or balcony, think about how you can make the most of it. Grow flowers, plants or vegetables, get a bird feeder and take in the sights and sounds around you. 
If planting isn’t your thing, you can also connect to nature through stories, art and sound recordings. Watching films or TV programmes about nature are also great way to connect with and reflect on nature. 

5 Protect nature

Taking care of something can be a really great way to feel good. And what better thing to take care of than nature? Nature is truly amazing – do what you can to look after nature - in your actions and choices. This can be as simple as recycling, to walking instead of driving, or even joining community conservation or clean-up groups. Taking care of nature can help you feel that you're doing your part, and that can make you feel more positive all round.  

You can also download some excellent wellbeing apps. Here’s the pick of the top 5 wellbeing apps from Orcha! Visit https://orchahealth.com and click on the app library

Foundations: formerly Evermind
| iOS, Android
Superbrains
| iOS, Android
87%
| iOS, Android
Go Jauntly: discover walks
| iOS
Melon:
healthier, happier you | iOS

For more information about Mental Health Awareness Week visit
https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk
https://mhfaengland.org/

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