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One in four adults experience a mental health problem each year in England, and one in six people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week. These staggering figures mean that it’s never been more important to look after our mental well-being. It’s common knowledge that exercise is a great mood-booster, but spending time enjoying and experiencing nature is now being recognized as another effective stress-reliever.
The Mental Health Foundation found that nature played an important role in supporting people’s mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, and therefore nature has been chosen as this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week.
According to their research, millions of us turned to nature for solace during the lockdowns and periods of social restrictions; 70% of UK adults said being close to nature improved their mood and 49% said being close to nature helped them cope with stress.
They found that even small contacts with nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and have a positive impact on our mental well-being. Visiting the coast or countryside can lift your mood, however you don’t have to travel far from your front door to reap the benefits of nature.
Simply using our senses to notice and take in our natural surroundings, even in urban environments, can help us develop a connection with the world around us. For example, listening intently to birdsong or buzzing bees, smelling flowers, watching the movement of clouds, or feeling the texture of tree bark can help us appreciate the beauty of nature and bring a sense of calm.
Studies have also found that there are many health benefits associated with gardening, including significant reductions in depression, anxiety and stress. Feeling the soil between your fingers as you plant seeds or bulbs, and tending to them as they grow, is excellent way of connecting with nature.
Microgreens are an accessible way for everyone to enjoy nature. They only need a small space on a windowsill and are quick and easy to grow. Once they germinate, I take great pleasure from watching them change daily as they grow. And eating them, knowing that I have nurtured them from seed, is also extremely satisfying.
If you know someone who would enjoy a bit a windowsill gardening, check out our range of Greens & Greetings. They come with everything needed to grow delicious microgreens.
You can share your experiences of connecting with nature using #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.
If you need any support or advice on mental health issues, please visit the NHS website.