National Mental Health Awareness Week kicks off on May 10th and, this year, it’s been given a theme that we’re particularly excited about here at YuMOVE HQ – nature.
Not only is our office surrounded by gorgeous countryside (which we took full advantage of pre-COVID with lunchtime walks), but the majority of us are dog owners, and there’s nothing we love more than getting out into the fresh air with our pets. Nature has given all of us a boost throughout a difficult year, and we’re not the only ones who think so!
So what has nature got to do with mental health? Lots, it seems. Countless studies have attested to the positive effects that nature has on both our physical and mental wellbeing. Let’s explore the benefits in more detail…
Why is nature good for our mental health?
• It’s a basic human instinct to seek out the likes of water and trees (thank our ancestors), so when we find those kinds of scenes, we feel happy and calm
• Outdoor activity boosts the body’s oxygen flow, which increases energy levels and raises the heart rate – easing stress and tension
• Light exposure helps to regulate our sleep cycle, making it easier to get a good night’s kip. It also boosts Vitamin D, a clinically proven mood-lifter
• Being among nature allows us to reset. No screens, no distractions – it helps clear our heads and improves focus
How to become more connected
Connecting with nature is easier said than done sometimes. Especially in recent months, where working from home, schooling at the kitchen table, and fear of a deadly virus were all day-to-day realities. Here are three top tips to help reboot your relationship with the Great Outdoors, and improve your mental health in the process…
You don’t need to order those hiking boots immediately! Simply start by setting some time aside that’s dedicated to getting outdoors. Even if it’s just a 10-minute stroll first thing in the morning – it all adds up!
Make a commitment to spend more time outside by swapping what you’d usually do for something more outdoorsy. Instead of taking the kids to indoor soft play, opt for a picnic or the zoo, for example. That weekend in the luxury hotel? How about a rural campsite that allows you to sleep under the stars?
Take up a new hobby
Fishing, golf, gardening, horse riding, photography, bird watching – these are just a few examples of outdoor activities to choose from. Try something new and you could discover a lifelong passion.
If you’re struggling
Remember, if you’re struggling with your mental health, there’s always someone to turn to. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a friend or family member, you can reach out to reputable companies such as Mind and Mental Health UK.
As for the mental health of our pets? It’s just as important as our own. Check out some further reading on relevant topics below…
Helping your dog with anxiety
Separation anxiety and how to deal with it
Reducing stress in your pet