How spending time in nature can benefit your mental health
Published: 10 May 2021 to 31 December 2098
When looking for ways to improve your mental health and wellbeing, one popular option is to increase the amount of time you spend outdoors.
Spending time in nature and green areas can improve your mood and doing activities outdoors such as sports, gardening, growing food and visiting naturally beautiful areas can reduce feelings of stress, improve your overall health and encourage your body and mind to relax.
One of the ways that we like to introduce nature into people’s routines as part of our services is to bring together allotment groups.
Our Occupational Therapy Allotment Group is for people with severe and enduring mental health conditions in the local area. It is a place where people can develop new skills, have the opportunity to create a meaningful routine, and can socialise and connect with others in a safe and supportive environment. It’s also a way for people to manage symptoms which may ordinarily prevent them from engaging in their communities.
“The allotment gives me the opportunity to meet new people and socialise. I learn something new and it provides me with exercise, even though I also have a physical disability. I undertake seed sowing, planting and creative activities. I enjoy harvesting the produce, eating and cooking with it. It has improved my diet as I am eating more healthily too.” - Allotment Group Member
We are proud to see that the activity the allotment group has supported many people in taking up a fulfilling new hobby over the last few years. They also work with the broader teams to support people’s recovery through finding opportunities for employment, volunteering and education, to further develop their sense of purpose and meaning, in order to thrive in their communities.
Research shows that gardening and other such hobbies can support a person’s mental health, giving them energy and a new sense of purpose. The plant-person relationship is also said to enable people to experience and develop self-care, which is a transferable skill for other important areas of life.
In addition to our allotment groups, some of our services bring nature to service users in other ways. Our teams at Avondale have recently planted a Spring Garden, which brightens up the outdoor space on the unit and brings joy to those within the environment.
As a team, our Avondale unit continues to push forward with plans and projects around improving their outdoor space beyond the Spring Garden. In the past couple of months, they have dug over and prepared weed filled areas of bare soil and seeded this with a selection of wildflowers, attracting wildlife and native grasses.
The Courtyard Garden is thriving, with multiple tubs and pots, presently bursting with tulips, but with some summer flowering perennials now showing signs of new growth and revival.
As well as this, the Green Team at Miranda House is pushing all things green. Recycling, waste, reuse, composting, energy, environment, food choices and more, are all on the agenda! The team plans to 're-love' the front of the premises, including planting new shrubs and flowers.
Other ways in which you can bring nature to you is by buying plants and flowers for inside your home. You could also grow herbs on the kitchen windowsill, or even just put up pictures of nature around your space.
Some people get a lot of joy from spending time outdoors with animals. If getting a pet isn’t something you can or want to do, what you can do is visit local farms, buy a bird feeder for your outdoor space, or visit a local area known for its wildlife.
There are many ways in which you can explore nature and make it part of your routine in some way. A fantastic resource online which goes more in depth into this topic is the nature and wellbeing guidance from Mind. You can access it here.