For the last 21 years, the Mental Health Foundation have set the theme, organised and hosted Mental Health Awareness Week, during which time the event has grown to become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK and globally.
This year, Mental Health Awareness Week will take place from 10th-16th May 2021. The theme is ‘Nature’. This could not seem more appropriate. Over the last year, in and out of lockdown, millions of people re-discovered that access to nature is crucial for our mental health.
The Week is an opportunity for people to talk about all aspects of mental health, with a focus on providing help and advice. It will be an be an opportunity to open our eyes to the power of nature.
Nature and Mental Health
We’ve put together some tips on how to bring the benefits of nature into your life.
Grow or pick food:
- Create a growing space and plant vegetables. If you don’t have access to a garden, you could plant salad leaves or herbs in a window box or plant pot.
- Go fruit picking or foraging. You could take a trip to Parkside Farm in Enfield where you can ‘Pick Your Own’ fruit and veg to buy. You might also find fruit growing in urban spaces, like wild blackberries.
- Plant your own lettuce or tomato seeds in small pots by a window. Once Covid-19 restrictions have eased, you could look for community gardens, or shared allotments in your local area.
Bring nature inside:
- Grow plants or flowers on windowsills. Save glass jars to create mini gardens inside and fill with plants, petals, stones or soil. Find some tops tips for growing plants indoors here.
- Collect natural materials, like leaves, flowers, feathers, tree bark or seeds – use them to decorate your living space or make art.
- Buy some flowers or a potted plant for your home.
- Create a comfortable sitting space, by a window where you can look at trees or the sky.
- Listen to natural sounds, open a window, or use recordings that play birdsong, rainfall or ocean waves.
- Take photos of your favourite places in nature. Set them as backgrounds on a phone/laptop, or print them off and display them
- Watch the Stuart Low Trust ‘Mindfulness in Nature’ DVD made by Katy Connell, so you can see and hear nature when you are indoors .
Do activities outdoors:
- Take a walk in a green space, breathe in fresh air and be present.
- Have a picnic. Go to a local park or sit in a garden. You could do this on your own or make it more social with friends or family.
- Exercise outside. Go for a run in a , do yoga outdoors or join a walking group.
- Be mindful in nature. Find things to see, hear, taste, smell and touch, like grass under your feet or the feeling of wind and sunlight. You could also .
- Go stargazing. Simply enjoy looking at the night sky, or use a book, guide or website to help you identify different stars and their patterns.
- Get creative. Write a nature journal outside. Draw or paint nature scenes or let nature inspire a poem or lyrics.
Help the environment:
- Plant seeds outside, like berry bushes for garden birds, or flowers to help bumblebees.
- Go litter picking, or volunteer for a local conservation project.
- Build an animal habitat. Make a bug hotel or a hedgehog house using piles of leaves, moss, soil and sticks.
Connect with animals:
- Watch for wildlife. Visit a local park or walk along a canal to look for squirrels, fish, insects, ducks and other birds. Or explore Freightliner’s City Farm in Islington and meet the animals.
- Hang a bird feeder outside a window. If space, build a small wooden nesting box on a tree or under a windowsill.
- Try pet-sitting or dog walking. Offer to be a pet sitter in your local neighbourhood, volunteer to walk dogs for an animal shelter, or ask to borrow a friend’s dog for occasional walks.
“Nurturing something else in my life has really helped my wellbeing – gently caring for something helped me learn to care for myself.”
For more information on Mental Health Awareness Week, please visit the Mental Health Foundation website.