The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week this year is nature. Spending quality time with nature can reduce stress, balance your mood and help you feel more positive.

The important thing is to switch on your senses and really connect – whether that’s noticing nature on your daily jog, or listening to the birds on your woodland walk.

SEEK OUT GREEN SPACES

Whether you live in the countryside surrounded by green spaces, or in the city, there is nature everywhere. From local parks, gardens, canals, or courtyards, it’s worthwhile seeking out these natural spaces if you can do so in a safe way, following the latest Government advice.  

Young woman walking on green asphalt road in forest

If you’re struggling to find an area near you, or you can’t go out at the moment, why not try and bring nature to you. This could be planting herbs or flowers in your garden or balcony, or introducing some house plants into your personal space. Even keeping your windows open to let in fresh air and getting some natural sunlight can be beneficial. 


RELAXATION AND MINDFULNESS

There are so many ways to bring Mindfulness into our lives. During the summertime, when many people find it easier to get outdoors, practicing Mindfulness in nature can be a great way to combine active Mindfulness strategies with taking in the benefits of being in nature. 

Young woman standing with her eyes closed in a park and raising her arms to the sky on a sunny summer day

If you’re not sure how to practice ‘mindfulness’, just take your time to be aware of how you’re feeling, your surroundings, what you can hear, smell, touch and see.

Apart from what you’re doing right at that moment, try to let other thoughts drift away by focusing on your senses.  


INTERACTING WITH WILDLIFE

Being around animals and wildlife can also be beneficial for overall wellbeing. Even from your own home, take a look outside your window and see if you can spot birds in your garden. If you can’t see them, listen for them instead! 

Garden Birds. European Robin, Erithacus rubecula and Great tit, Parus major on seed tray feeder in Winter.

The more you look, the more you see! 


GARDENING, CONSERVATION AND FARMING

We’ve likely all experienced feeling much better after some time outdoors. Gardening can have huge benefits for your wellbeing, and studies have found that time gardening can improve mood, increase quality of life, and overall wellbeing. 

Even something as simple as having a plant on your desk can reduce stress and make you feel more energized and able to think more clearly, and many that suffer from anxiety or depression have found gardening and caring for plants to be incredibly beneficial.

Little helper assists mother while planting flowers at home

Planting and growing your own food has huge environmental benefits too, from significantly reducing food miles, eating more seasonal produce, and knowing exactly where your food comes from. It’s a win-win! 


BE CREATIVE

When we think of the things that are beneficial to our wellbeing how many of us automatically think of exercise and diet, before considering any creative hobbies?

Nature can be great inspiration to get creative! This can be through painting, drawing, crafting something, photography or writing – the possibilities are endless.  

Creative season layout of colorful summer and autumn leaves and branches

Still stuck for ideas and need a creative nudge? Here are some of the different ways you can engage in a creative activity and boost your wellbeing.

  • Colour pencil drawing. Do a small coloured pencil drawing every day for a year and see how your observation and drawing skills start to improve. By the end of the year you will be a lot better and will have this amazing collection as a very tangible result
  • Colour photo. Taking a photo is very easy and most of us carry a smartphone with us. This also encourages you to pay fresh attention to what is around you visually, which we normally have no reason to notice.
  • Black and white photo. Move on from taking a colour photo every day to exploring what it would be like without the full colour spectrum. This approach gets you to think differently and to learn more about how a camera works.
  • Write 12 short stories (1 per month). Many of us may not have written an imaginative story since being at primary school. A short story can be just a couple of pages long and start with a simple question you have. Finishing a story can also be very fulfilling.

Sadly, right now, lots more children need our help. Our referrals are increasing, and many more young people are waiting for a respite break and our ongoing support. 

You can make a difference by supporting the Safe Haven Appeal. 

Please select a donation amount (required)
Set up a regular payment Donate