This week, the 10th-16th of May is Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme for this year is nature which is perfect for me to talk about as it combines two topics on my blog. Over the last few months, nature has really helped heal my soul. I have found that weeding, harvesting veg/flowers and being amongst wildlife have been so good for me. In this post, I’m going to share a few ways that nature can improve your mental health.
(Updated August 2022)
Watch a nature documentary
Sometimes, going outside or on a walk was hard for me. When I was feeling depressed, I didn’t want to leave my bed let alone the house. If I was feeling really anxious, something that would help take my mind off the situation was animals. My cats really helped me but if they were outside, I would like to put on one of David Attenborough’s documentaries. One particular favourite is Our Planet, episode 2 – Frozen Worlds. I don’t know what it is, but watching polar bears, penguins etc. calmed me. You can find Our Planet on Netflix and iPlayer. There are lots of other nature documentaries out there too which you should definitely check out.
Caring for the environment
Caring for the environment is another way that nature can improve your mental health. Serotonin is created when we do something that makes us feel happy, and looking after the planet definitely makes me happy. A few ideas of what you can do:
- Making eco-friendly decorations | Blogmas 2020
- 5 eco-friendly chocolate brands you need to try
- How to have an eco-friendly picnic
- 15+ ways to upcycle plastic
- How to have a sustainable Halloween
Look after a plant
I’m not sure what it is but there’s something so peaceful about looking after a plant. I have quite a few succulents and love to have them with me in the corner of my room. I also have a Monstera Deliciousa plant which I got for my birthday in March, it is growing so quickly. I’m always looking forward to repotting it and seeing how many roots it has. My brother gave me a plant (which I can’t quite remember the name of), and I bought a Snake plant at the uni plant sale. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think a Snake plant is a bit like a giant succulent. Mine hasn’t grown yet!
Related post: 6 ways that trees benefit us
I absolutely love taking photos of flowers, bees and butterflies. Having a garden in lockdown is something that I’ve been really grateful for! I was very anxious about walking near others so basically just stayed in my garden or occasionally went to my parent’s allotment. Those are the two main places I went but now that I’m in Bournemouth and go out most days, I love going out in nature to see lots of flowers on my walks. At the moment, I have been loving going out on butterfly walks and ticking off species on my butterfly bucket list!
Continue reading: 4 ways nature can improve your mental health
I have recently become more interested in bird watching. I took a unit at uni called behavioural ecology, and for one of my assignments, I had to observe the behaviour of a swan. A lot of people don’t like swans, but I adore them! You need much to bird watch, but it can be fun to go to a bird hide. Sometimes bird reserves provide binoculars, but if you don’t have any, they aren’t essential for seeing birds. They are also likely to have bird guides, though, of course, you can bring your own. I haven’t been to that many bird hides, but I’ve seen Swallows, Canadian Geese, and a few others.
Getting creative in any form has always helped my mental health – writing, painting, bullet journaling, drawing etc. Of course, my favourite thing to paint is flowers, but I have recently been drawing birds too. I would love to do more spontaneous painting, I’d like to just pick up my paints, brushes and a bottle of water and walk down to the park or the beach. Sitting on grass and painting in the sunshine sounds ideal to me! Another creative idea to improve your mental health is going to a pottery painting place. I have been going with one of my friends, and it is so relaxing to have some time away from studying.
This idea is similar to looking after a plant, but why not try your hand at gardening? You might turn out to have green fingers! Volunteering for 2 months at a vegetable farm has made me want to grow my own food even more. My parents have an allotment so I am lucky enough to help out there. It is a bit hard in a student house for me to grow things, but I am hoping to grow some vegetables in grow bags. You can get really cheap ones at Wilko, and they had a seed sale recently so I have purchased some carrot seeds to try. If you don’t have any garden space, you could grow some herbs on a windowsill. Parsley, chives and basil are my favourites.
Which ways does nature improve your mental health?
Best wishes, Cx