Easy ways to improve your mental health by connecting with nature

I love being outside and it helps my mental health. My mood is always brighter when I’ve been able to spend time outdoors. Spring is my favourite season. With the weather getting warmer, blue skies, sunshine and blossom it just feels so positive. This year for Mental Health Awareness Week (10th to 16th May 2021) the Mental Health Foundation has chosen the theme of nature.

Nature and mental health.
Steven Kamenar on Unsplash.

Why nature is good for your mental health

Spending time in nature is an effective way of looking after your mental health and wellbeing. It can help people with specific mental health problems but can also help you to maintain good mental health.

Humans are designed to spend time in nature and live alongside it. As modern society has developed, we have spent less and less time outdoors. During the Covid pandemic we have all appreciated our time outdoors even more. We used it to release stress, reduce isolation and exercise.

Spending time outdoors can help us with mindfulness. Nature can help us to focus on the moment and to be aware of our senses. Looking at the beauty of nature can help us to be more creative and remind us of all is good in the world.

Nature and mental health.
Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

How can you fit more nature into your life?

I know that I am incredibly lucky to live in the countryside in Norfolk, UK. It’s where I grew up and I now live in a large village with a house and a garden with easy access to the countryside. But I know that not everyone is so fortunate to have this easy access to nature. But there are some ways that you can embrace nature as part of your life wherever and however you live.

Even in a town or city you can spot some signs of nature. Going for a walk through the streets you’ll still be able to see trees, flowers or plants in front gardens and listen out for some birds. You may even spot butterflies, ladybirds or bees. I love going for a walk in a forest or at the beach, but even when I walk through the streets, I try to be mindful and grateful at spotting some of these signs of nature.

Make use of the great outdoors to exercise in. Physical activity is good for our mental health but combining it with nature means double the benefits! Perhaps try and go for a walk, a run or a cycle outside.

While I have a garden, I am not a gardener! I enjoy spending time outside in my garden, reading a book, playing with my dog or lying in a hammock not planting or growing things! But I do have a few house plants inside my house. These plants are often less work than gardening but is a nice way of bringing the outside in. It feels comforting to have some greenery around. Looking after something and learning about houseplants is also a great way of distracting you and helping your mental health. Or a slightly easier way is through having vases of flowers indoors!

Perhaps you can watch films, read books or stories which feature a lot of nature? I have really enjoyed watching Mortimer & Whitehouse Gone Fishing – it’s got lots of lovely scenery and is quite amusing. There’s always David Attenborough documentaries which are always worth watching. Recently I have read The Natural Health Service book by Isabel Hardman which includes information about cycling, cold water swimming and birdwatching. If you’re interested in nature and health, I really recommend this book and it includes lots of research and evidence to show how it helps.

Do you have any creative hobbies? Can you be inspired by nature in your hobbies? Perhaps by sewing with floral fabric, drawing or painting something from nature or even snapping some photographs while you’re out in nature.

What nature do you enjoy and how does it help your mental health? Follow me on facebook or instagram and let me know. Get in touch with me about my mentoring services to see how I can help you to squeeze more nature in to your self care.