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Mental Health Awareness Week - 2021 Is All About Nature
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Mental Health Awareness Week - 2021 Is All About Nature

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The theme for 2021 is nature, and how apt that we, once again have super weather for getting out and about in the fresh air and the lockdown is reaching stage 2 in the road map where we can start to meet our friends and families once more.  Covid has had a huge negative impact on people across all ages and communities and as we start to be released from lockdown there will be many people unable to cope as well as they did before. 

There is a great deal of evidence proving the positive effect that nature has on both our physical and mental wellbeing.  Just looking out of the window, even in the city, it is a marvel how the birds and flowers thrive in the most populated areas.  Just seeing them can help to lift our spirits.   It has been proven that patients in hospital recover much quicker when they can engage with nature.  Just having a view to the outside, seeing a window box or bird table all help. 

Nature is a gift that we all need to embrace.

Nature is under the guardianship of the generations to come yet there is more and more evidence that teenagers in particular are less engaged with nature now than they ever were, and at a time where teenage mental health is on the decline, you have to wonder whether this could this be linked.  According the ONS survey 2020, 1 in 6 youngsters aged between 5 and 16 years of age were found to have a probable mental health disorder and this was across both boys and girls.  The statistics get worse as children get older.

What can be done?  It depends on the age of the children but here are a few ideas to get started.

  • Set up treasure hunts. Keep the list short, and have simple things to find, such as an acorns or the most colourful stone.  You could even double up by doing a litter pick with a prize for the child who collects the most rubbish!
  • Get a nature book with pictures and see how many different birds, animals and tree species you can find.
  • There are some great explorer gift boxes for children available containing a bug box, a magnifying glass, or binoculars that will promote ways to explore the outdoors.
  • Go to the park. Parks are free and often have skateboard ramps and jungle gyms and others may have free shows and performances.
  • A great idea is hide the pebble!  In some woodlands you might find pebbles with painted faces.  The idea is to take a picture then re-hide it for someone else. If this isn't happening by you, why not start one and set up a Facebook page. Search Wirral Rocks on Facebook for ideas, they have over 14k followers!
  • Let your youngster use the phone to take pictures and videos on a walk, still technology but out in the open.
  • See if there is a pick your own fruit and veg farm nearby.  Bringing home the food is always a good experience and often the farms will have others activities too such as tractor rides or petting areas for small animals.
  • Plant some seeds.  Our garden gift boxes contain wildlife and nature friendly flower seeds which are easy to sow and grow.
  • Go for a walk or bike ride picnic.  A burst of energy in the outdoors followed by a sweet treat.
  • Do arts and crafts with the flowers and seeds that have been collected on your walk.  Pencil rubbings of leaves or sketching something from nature is relaxing.
  • Build a bird box or table.  Seeing the birds come back day after day for food and will give a sense of responsibility and joy.
  • Offer to walk a neighbours dog or do some gardening.  The chances are that there might be a bit of a reward for doing it and if not the pleasure in helping someone out is reward in itself.

Mind.org state that nature has the following positive effects:

Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical well-being. It can:

  • improve your mood
  • reduce feelings of stress or anger
  • help you take time out and feel more relaxed
  • improve your physical health
  • improve your confidence and self-esteem
  • help you be more active
  • help you make new connections

During Mental Health Awareness week, MentalHealth.org are asking people to do three things under the hashtag #ConnectWithNature.

Experience Nature – Take a moment to notice and celebrate nature in your daily life. You might be surprised.

Share Nature – Take a photo, video or sound recording and share them to inspire others.  Join the discussion on social media ‘ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

Talk About Nature –Discuss with family, workplace and community on how you can encourage others to engage with nature in your local area.

Mind.org has some great and easy ideas on how to connect with nature and some first-hand stories to inspire.  Many include walking, gardening or planting herbs on the window sill or simply bringing nature inside in the form of a pot plant.  There are many great ideas to help nature and improve mental health.

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/nature-and-mental-health/ideas-to-try-in-nature/

If you have a friend or loved one who needs a pick me up and you are still unable to visit why not check out our Relax and Pamper Collection with gifts containing books on Mindfulness, being Calm and Happy, we will gift wrap and send direct to them on your behalf, with a free printed message of love.