As for everyone else, this last year has been a real challenge for me.
Before the pandemic, whenever I became aware that my stress was increasing or that I needed a break, my ‘go to’ would be to get outside and go for a walk, usually with my dog. However, two things changed. First the pandemic struck, which limited going outside anyway and then just as the second lockdown lifted, my dog became ill and had to be put to sleep. I lost my reason to go out and all of my regular walks just made me feel sad without my faithful pooch trotting along beside me. This was mixed with the fact that I was working from home. Sometimes it would be a week or 10 days before I would go outside.
When the third lockdown happened, I felt fine about it initially as I was already in a self-imposed version. But then after Christmas, I realised that I needed to start going out for walks again. Apart from the fact that my mood was being affected, I needed to create space in my living environment. I am really lucky to live just a 10 minute walk from the beach, but the beach felt too busy for me as it was a haven for a lot of people. I also live just a short walk from countryside and this is where I love to be the most. For me, there is nothing better than walking down a country track and hearing nothing but birds singing or the occasional cow mooing and if I am really lucky, I might come across a field with horses!
Narrow boats and nature
Another thing that makes my heart sing, is my passion for all things canal and narrow boat related. Prior to the lockdown, we would drive quite regularly to walk along the towpath of the Kennet and Avon, which is the closest canal to me. Recently, with restrictions being lifted, I have been really lucky to have a week on a narrow boat. When you are ‘driving’ a narrow boat, you are doing it in the open air, no matter what the weather. But I think there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!
What I enjoy the most is the slow pace (maximum speed of 4mph), linked in with all the nature around and having the time to enjoy it. With it being Springtime, I have seen mother ducks with their ducklings, ranging from 5 to 12! I have seen new lambs springing around in the fields and I have seen (and heard) calves. Where I was in Warwickshire, the countryside was beautiful and on one of my walks, I was lucky to find the remains of a Norman hill fort with spectacular views!
I realise that I am very lucky to have had this recent experience and it has reignited my joy at being in nature. I know that the environment that I am in can have a massive impact on my mood and therefore I know that I need to get into nature, to nurture my soul.
Living in Dorset makes me feel really fortunate. It is a beautiful county with lots of variety depending on whether you like the seaside or the countryside or both! Wherever we are in Dorset, we are never too far from being able to get outside and appreciate all that it has to offer.
The GAP Project
Being outside in nature can help, as our guest blogger has shown. Our ecotherapy allotments in Dorchester, The GAP Project focus on helping people build self-esteem and confidence. Our facilitators will encourage you to notice what you see at the allotment: nature, the skyline, flowers and creatures. Getting active through gardening will help improve your improving mental wellbeing. Visit our Facebook page: The GAP Project with Dorset Mind to find out how to access our sessions.
Special thanks to…
Huge thanks to our Counselling Team Leader, Claire, who wrote this lovely blog for us.