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    Mental Health Awareness Week: How can nature help?

    This year Mental Health Awareness Week is focused on nature. But why nature? What is it about the great outdoors that can be calming?

    We live in such a connected society, always being plugged in whether it be laptops, phones, iPads, tablets, game consoles an electronic device is never far away. However, when we unplug there is a whole world out there waiting to be explored.

    Research has shown that being outside and exploring nature does have a positive effect on your wellbeing. Taking time to be in the moment, breathe in the fresh air, listening to the birds, allows your mind and body to be calm, relax and de-stress.

    Ways to enjoy nature

    1. Take a walk in the park/nature reserve/local trail – even though you might be taking steps to unwind, watching the insect, butterflies, birds living their lives can be interesting. Watching life continue whilst you slow down is wonderful to watch.
    2. Watch the sunset or sunrise – taking the time to watch nature at its best. The colours in the sky during a sunrise or sunset can be amazing. If you are an artist, bring out the canvas or paints and paper and mark the occasion.
    3. Visit the beach, sit by a lake and listen to the waves – if blue is your colour why not sit on a lovely sandy beach, or on a bench on the pier, which licking an ice-cream, or sipping a hot chocolate and hear the water hitting the rocks, or listening and watching the bubbles pop against the shore line.
    4. Go camping – if you really want to truly unplug from the world for a while try camping. Hitching up a tent and sleeping under the starlit sky, nothing can get you closer to nature
    5. Try meditating or doing yoga outside – of course walking and being out in the open is like its own medicine and therapy, but why not go all the way and add your breathing part of it. Everyone knows taking deep breaths increases oxygen intake, combat issues like stress and anxiety, reduce pain, high blood pressure and even aide in digestion.
    6. Walk up a mountain and get the best view of nature when you reach the top. Take a break at the top. Enjoy the view, look around you. Now is the time to take a picture for future memories.

    Over the last year there has been a huge spike in meditation, and mindfulness apps. Calm, Headspace, Meditopia, Relax Melodies are just a few of apps available for users to download. It is no coincidence that these and more meditation apps are packed with the natural sounds of the earth, because they are calming.

    Another way to experience nature is to bring nature indoors. Buying flowers and plants are also great ways to relax the mind. Plants release oxygen into the air which in turn benefits our minds, increases attentiveness and memory, reduces stress levels and boosts our mood. If you do not know much about plants, try Bloombox a company that delivers indoor plants to you every month.

    There are so many ways to experience and really enjoy being in nature. Make a promise to yourself to take time out everyday to do just that. Your are contributing to a healthy mind and body!

    World Mental Health Day: Mental Health for All