Getting A Mental Health Boost From Exploring The Great Outdoors
OK before I get started on this post, why oh why is it so chilly? Last week it felt like winter. This year I’m tempted to turn the heating on, and I’m pretty sure last year I was out enjoying plenty of warm rays. Winter was long enough this year, so whyyy is it taking so long to heat up for spring?
Despite this annoying setback, I’m still forcing myself to get out and about. Because even if I’m still getting goose pimples, the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming, and I don’t want to blink and miss all the loveliness of spring.
At the moment my anxiety is at bay. That’s not to say I’m not getting tested, because I am. But there’s one thing that’s helping at the moment, and that’s nature. We often forget to open our eyes and soak up what’s all around us, because we’re so absorbed in our stressful lives and distracted by technology.
It’s actually my little sister who has inspired me to get out and about. She’s got into foraging lately, and I have to say, it’s a brilliant way of really immersing yourself in the natural world.
It makes you think, it makes you notice, but most importantly, it makes you appreciate all the intriguing things our planet has to offer us. I’m sure I will do a full post on foraging soon, but for now I’ve got a different focus.
I’ve been out in the woodlands picking wild food, swinging around on tree swings and tires and watching my wolves have a blast in the great outdoors. And it’s been brilliant. So brilliant that when I’m out of the house and amongst thick greenery, I forget all my worries for a few glorious moments. Now isn’t that dandy?! Here’s how you can get a mental health boost from the great outdoors.
Invigorating fresh air
It’s oh so good when you step outside after being cooped up in the house all day. I work from home so I tend to go a bit house crazy, so perhaps when I do venture out, I notice the comfort of the fresh air more than most.
I sit in my home office and watch the trees dancing gracefully in the wind, and think, I want to be amongst those trees. I want to inhale that fresh air deep into my lungs. When you’re next outside, try and do a few breathing exercises and you will instantly feel more grounded.
Charming British wildlife
When you spot a field mouse scurrying on the surface of the leaves, a squirrel leap from tree to tree, or a rabbit freezing to hide from predators (like my dogs), you can get lost in the moment. It helps remind you that beyond your mental busy crazy life, there’s a world that’s beautifully simple and raw.
I’ve been out quite early in the morning and late in the evening and the wildlife appears to be a little more active at these times. The birds sing a bit louder, and as you pass along the woodland paths, you hear lots of rustling in the bushes as small mammals make their escape from you.
Getting into greenery
Did you know greenery is Pantone’s colour of the year? I’m very pleased about this. Not because I have an interest in fashion, but because this colour just might subconsciously encourage more people to go outdoors. Wearing green and having it around your home makes you feel closer to nature. It’s easy to forget just how lush some of the UK’s forests are.
I’ve always appreciated living in Surrey because of the glorious selection of trees. They cover the roads and engulf the woodlands. Spring is a time when you first notice the different shades of green on plants and trees, and remember how fresh our country can look. Apparently, simply looking at the colour green can improve your mood and make you feel happier.
Revisiting your youth
When you get outdoors you come across things that remind you of when you were younger. Like stumbling upon teepees people have made in the woods, playing pooh sticks and going on woodland tire swings. My sister and I had a great time the other day wandering around the countryside, and pretending to be children again. Sometimes, when you’re feeling crap, it can feel good to have some time off from being an adult.
Silence is golden
There’s no greater time to appreciate the magic of silence than when you are outside surrounded by nature. Go somewhere where you can’t hear any road noise or cars driving by, and you will be in heaven.
It gives your mind a chance to slow down and quieten a little, and if you really pay attention to silence, it’s so soothing. I say silence, but what I really mean is silence from the modern world, then you get to appreciate nature’s sounds.
Living in the moment
When we stop and notice all the beautiful plants, trees, flowers, shrubs, fields, buildings and countryside around you, you start living in the moment. Whether it’s a glance at an unusual colourful flower or imagining climbing up the tall tree in front of you, for a few moments, your mind is distracted.
Less of your everyday worries creep into your mind, and if they do, you seem to have more power to push them aside. If you’re into the whole mindfulness thing then spending time in the great outdoors is the perfect way to hone your skills.