Stop a while and notice spring
Spring has arrived, and with it, an explosion of colour and new life. Spring brightens our spirits — we all know what a bit of warmth and sunshine can do! And now that we’re finally able to get out and about, see more people, meet in gardens (and shortly, meet inside), we’re going to be busy making up for lost time and catching up with those we’ve missed so much.
But do you ever just stop? We’re always so busy getting things done that we sometimes forget the world around us. Nature is beautiful; we’ll all admit that. But spending time in the natural world is also excellent for helping to maintain good mental health.
Nature as therapy
Studies in ecotherapy reveal how being in and experiencing natural settings can lead to better mental health and feeling more relaxed1. Spending time in nature or even listening to natural sounds has been found to have a positive effect on both our thought processes and our bodies1 and a recent study suggested that spending two hours or more in natural spaces every week is linked with a positive sense of wellbeing2.
Take a mindful walk on the wild side
You don’t have to return from a walk caked in mud to benefit from the joys nature can bring either.
Use mindfulness to attend to the present moment. Let nature and the environment hold you. Pay attention to your senses — what do you hear, see or feel? What’s the temperature of your skin; what can you smell? If you’re in a kitchen garden or allotment, what can you taste?
Perhaps focus on what’s going on around you — magpies roosting, grasses swaying in the breeze, the rustle of birds in hedgerows. Notice things you ordinarily wouldn’t intimately investigate a leaf or flower or take a long, calm walk amongst woodland (you could even try forest bathing, see the website below for more information).
Contemplation during the pandemic
Over the past year, we’ve had to respond to the pandemic by staying at home or staying local. During the first lockdown of 2020, evidence suggests that attitudes to nature changed for the positive, with many spending more time in natural settings3,4. We have also become more protective of the environment, with safeguarding it moving up our agenda as a result3,4.
So, when you next have a bit of time to yourself, why not spend it with nature? You may well feel the better for it.
Would you like to know more?
If you’d like to find out more about mindfulness, contact Fran Dunning. Fran is a qualified mindfulness coach and hypnotherapist with over 20 years experience. Contact her by phone: 07973 819867, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit https://www.francesdunning.com. Please consult your GP for further information and advice if you experience mental or physical health problems.
For more information about forest bathing see: https://www.forestryengland.uk/blog/forest-bathing. Last visited 02.04.2021.
For inspiration and ideas on how to engage more with the natural world visit:
1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/sour-mood-getting-you-down-get-back-to-nature. Last visited 02.04.2021.
2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3. Last visited 02.04.2021.
4. Lemmey, Tania (2020) Connection with nature in the UK during the COVID-19 lockdown. University of Cumbria, Carlisle. (Unpublished). See http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/5639/. Last visited 02.04.2021.