It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and the Mental Health Foundation are focusing on the positive impact of nature on mental wellbeing starting with tips for engaging with nature.
Many of us are aware that getting out helps our mind and body, but are we getting full benefit from intentionally increasing our attention to nature when we are in it? I’m tempted to focus on my audiobook, podcast or phone call during my daily evening walk for exercise. But moments of attention through any or all of our senses can have a significant impact on calmness and wellbeing - feeling, smelling, watching, listening (and tasting!).
We will look at nature’s unique ability to not only bring consolation in times of stress, but also increase our creativity, empathy and a sense of wonder. It turns out that it is not just being in nature but how we open ourselves up and interact with nature that counts. We will show that even small contacts with nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and be effective in protecting our mental health, and preventing distress. Mark Rowland, Mental Health Foundation
One of the significant and worthy challenges (mentioned in the awareness week campaign website posts) include increasing teenagers’ connection with nature and incorporating nature into habits for managing life. Perhaps this can be nurtured at younger ages where children are more pliable! But also with lockdown easing, taking opportunities to stop in nature with teens for picnics and camping can be memorably influential. When we stop, we are more likely to look and take it in.
Our Wild Earlswood project is preparing a series of wildlife walks led by local people with some knowledge of the topic or the particular part of our green spaces. We will start with a walk to get to know Earlswood Common by Simon Elson, who has led conservation tasks with Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers (RACV) for decades in the local area. Our CARR organizing team have been treated to some initial guided walks in the last month and we’ve all come away more knowledgeable and noticing more the next time we are out. Keep an eye on our CARR events pages.