Last reviewed on 12 May 2021
Has going for a walk in your local park or doing some gardening helped you during the COVID-19 pandemic? According to a survey by the Mental Health Foundation to mark #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek 2021 and its theme of #ConnectWithNature, seven in 10 adults in the UK say that being close to nature improves their mood. As the charity's Chief Executive Mark Rowland comments, “Nature can be a powerful ally in protecting our mental health. During the pandemic, millions of us discovered nature's power to relieve stress, worry, anxiety and restore us with positive emotions, such as joy."
Many studies have found positive links between nature and mental wellbeing – being outside can reduce stress, improve mood, encourage physical activity and facilitate social interactions. For example, a trial in Denmark found that a particular type of nature-based therapy was as effective as a specific cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for treating stress-related illnesses and research by the University of Derby has led to the development of the five ways to wellbeing with nature.
In recent years, awareness of climate change and other environmental issues has grown; in recent months, so too has our appreciation of the natural world. Indeed, many are calling for a green recovery from the pandemic that focuses on fixing our broken relationship with nature.
As Adam Murray, head of community empowerment at the RSPB, says: “Connecting with the natural world is more important than ever. Over the last few months, as we juggled work, family life and wellbeing, all from the confines of home, the natural world became a playground, a gym, a tonic, and much more besides. But while our lives have changed, the threats to nature have not gone away.”
London is one of the greenest cities in Europe – in fact, it was named a National Park City in 2019. Here are Good Thinking’s tips for connecting with nature and getting some ‘Vitamin N’ to boost your wellbeing. You might also like to listen to our #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek podcast with Emma Tolley of the Eden Project, who provides her tips on connecting with nature – including how to use all your senses when you're outside so that you really notice the world around you.
Check out Good Thinking’s articles about five ways to good mental wellbeing and how to get back into a routine after lockdown. You might also like to listen to our podcasts on nature , mindfulness, healthy screen/life balance and retaining hope and watch our video mini-series with members of the Speakers Collective.
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