This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 10th May until 16th May. The theme in 2021 is connecting with nature, something which lots of us have done over the course of the last 12 months.
With our activities and usual routines curbed by Covid-19, the natural world has been a refuge for many. Nature not only aids our physical wellbeing but it helps us stay mentally healthy, especially as the days grow longer and the weather improves. When we get out into nature, we feel better and can concentrate on looking after each other and ourselves.
As we live through the pressures of our lives, doing something as simple as going for a walk means a change of scenery and some fresh air. Sitting somewhere peaceful can ease anxieties or worries. Even small contacts with nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and prevent feelings of distress.
Whether you live in a rural or urban area, it’s easy to connect with nature. We want everyone to experience as much of nature as they can. So, to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we’ve created some interactive activities to help you get involved:
Take A Walk
Walking can have a positive physical and emotional impact. In fact, any kind of exercise decreases tension and releases feel-good endorphins. Whether we are hiking or taking a stroll in the nearby green space, these periods enable us to de-stress, forget our worries and switch off.
Throughout Ireland and the UK, our towns, cities and countryside have some iconic landmarks, excellent trails and open landscapes, and we would encourage people to pay them a visit during this Mental Health Awareness Week. You won’t be disappointed.
Check out these great sites, which list spaces and walking gems across the UK and Ireland:
We are extremely excited to launch our unique new series of mindfulness podcasts, Take a Walk on the Mind Side, which we have created in partnership with our lead Mindfulness Practitioner, Frank Liddy, and Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs country and forest park rangers. You can pick a destination from our list of local country and forest parks. We will accompany you on this mindfulness journey, explaining the environment and what you should see and hear, all while taking notice of the world around you.
If you are not close to one of these parks, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Head over to Spotify and other podcast streaming services to check out our list and begin your walk on the mind side.
For those of you who can’t access parks, or who want to bring nature into your homes, we have put together this video for you to view natural sites and be mindful, all from the comfort of home. Check it out below.
And remember to capture your travels and post them on social media, tagging @InspireWBGroup on Facebook/Twitter, and @inspire_wellbeing on Instagram, and using #TakeAWalkOnTheMindSide.
Take A Breath
Connecting with nature supports our mental health and wellbeing. Taking the time to pause and breathe, then noticing and exploring the world around us can help clarify the things that are often lost in our busy daily lives.
To help you and the family explore the great outdoors, we have created an interactive nature scavenger hunt. Discover as many of the items on this downloadable list as possible and then create your own terrarium bottle.
How, you might ask? Staff from our Community Wellbeing Service have created this handy guide on how to make a terrarium bottle, using a range of natural resources. There are plenty of great videos you can watch online to help you as well – have a look below:
Top tip: You can use the materials picked up on your scavenger hunt to bring it to life. Nature doesn’t need to remain outside – let’s bring it into our own homes.
We would love to see your finds and your finished terrarium bottles. Don’t forget to tag @InspireWBGroup on Facebook/Twitter and @inspire_wellbeing on Instagram, for us to enjoy and share.
Take A Moment
Take a moment to think about how you can connect with nature. That could be taking a walk in a green space, bringing nature into your home or having a seat and a cup of tea outside. Whatever it is that helps you, make sure you set aside the time to do it.
It can be difficult to find time but stepping out into nature to reflect on our surroundings can give us that time. If you are anxious about doing this, why not open the window and let the outside in? Do whatever makes you feel comfortable. Being more aware of what is happening in the present builds a sense of calm. This is good for your mental health.
Our Take A Walk On The Mind Side podcast will help you take notice, guiding your virtual excursion through the natural world. Our podcast is especially useful if a local green space isn’t that accessible.
By taking notice, you can conserve our world. We are working with MyNI to invite you to get involved with actions that will benefit your physical and mental health, local habitats and species and, ultimately, the planet. You can sign up to MyNI’s Change for Nature Pledge here: www.myni.life/get-involved/change-for-nature-pledge/
What is your relationship with nature and how does it compare with your neighbour? Do you think your actions affect the environment, is nature an important part of who you are, or maybe you believe that nothing we do makes a difference to the environment? Those are some of the questions posed in the brand new Environment Engagement Index (EEI), an annual government-backed survey of people’s engagement with and connection to nature.
Research has shown that if people are engaged with nature they are more likely to look after it, and whilst we’ve all appreciated nature in lockdown, this survey poses questions that will hopefully help take our relationship with nature to a whole new level. Not only that, you can find out what the survey shows on a NI-wide basis.
People in our services are already getting in on the Mental Health Awareness Week action. Have a look at our social media channels and be inspired: Facebook, Twitter (@InspireWBGroup) and Instagram (@inspire_wellbeing)
Whatever you do, however you do it, connecting with nature will positively affect your wellbeing. You can find out about the resources near you at this link: www.changeyourmindni.org/take5/take5search
Walk just 5k // Nominate 5 friends // Donate £5 to support the work of Inspire.
Spending quality time with nature can balance your mood and help you feel more positive. The important thing is to switch on your senses and really connect – whether that’s noticing the wildlife living in your local country park or just listening to the birds in the local forest, connecting with nature is good for your mind.
If you are interested in finding out more about our 5-5-5 Fundraising Challenge for Mental Health Awareness Week, then give our Fundraising Manager, Danielle, a shout (firstname.lastname@example.org) or sign up via Justgiving TODAY! We have it all set up for you... just click on the link to start your fundraising.
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