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A Woodland Scene In Nature With A Stone Bridge

Nature and mental health

We’re half way through Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16th May), and for this year the theme is ‘nature.’ As the days get longer and life begin to brighten, now is the perfect time to enjoy the many benefits of being outdoors. Spending time in nature can provide a whole host of benefits to both your physical and mental health. Benefits include reduced stress and anger, boosted confidence and self-esteem, increased relaxation, and improved fitness.

Additionally, a study by the Wildlife Trust found that 95% of their participants with mild mental health difficulties experienced improved wellbeing after just six weeks of volunteering outside. Time outside provides ample opportunity to improve your physical health, connect with friends and give back to nature.

Top tips and ideas for getting back to nature:

  1. Work with your interests

    Don’t force yourself to do something you don’t enjoy. Take some time to try different activities and see what works for you

  2. Spend time with others

    Make sure to keep up to date with current restrictions whilst taking advantage of the social activities that are allowed. Try visiting a duckpond with a member of your household or meeting a friend for a walk and a catch up.

  3. Plan ahead

    Research local beauty spots and check out the weather forecasts beforehand for the best results. Chose a time of day to go for a walk when you usually feel most energised.

  4. The GAP Project

    Dorset Mind deliver an ecotherapy group in partnership with Meyers Estate Agents. The service offers two weekly sessions to those with mild to moderate mental health and wellbeing challenges. These sessions run all year and involve a range of outside activities, including planting fruit and vegetables, planning outdoor spaces, upcycling, and creating wildlife habitats. If you are interested in taking part, please email thegap@dorsetmind.uk.

  5. Try volunteering

    The Five Ways to Wellbeing is an evidence-based approach that anyone can use to improve their mental health. By volunteering in nature, you can experience all five Ways to Wellbeing in one go: by getting active, learning new skills, giving back to nature, connecting with other volunteers, and taking notice of nature’s beauty. Keep checking our volunteer vacancies for new opportunities to get involved with The GAP Project or other roles.

  6. Experiment with a range of activities

    Whilst walking or jogging in the park is enjoyable for many, don’t forget to try other activities in nature. You could watch the stars, draw, or paint outside, eat meals outdoors, walk a friend’s dog, or listen to a mindfulness podcast. There are many different ways to take advantage of nature’s benefits.

  7. Be kind to yourself

    If you are struggling with your mental health, it can sometimes be difficult to motivate yourself. Take small steps and work towards your wellbeing goals. Always talk to your GP if you have a concern about your physical or mental health.

Our guest blogger:

Huge thanks to our Ambassador and Assistant psychologist Lucy for her timely blog. Lucy has also contributed a lovely film about how nature makes her feel which you can find on our Instagram feed.

Support getting active

We’ve just launched a new ‘Walk and Talk’ group in Weymouth, every Wednesday morning 10-11am from 19th May. Please email physicalactivity@dorsetmind.uk for further details, we’re also hoping to roll these out across the county.

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