This week is mental health awareness week. It has been running for 21 years now, and after the last 18 months we have all been through, its feels like it is even more important to listen to what the campaign has to say this year.
So what is the campaign this year. #ConnectWithNature.
Why? The Mental Health Foundation have found out what we Gardeners have known for a long time. Being close to nature, in any guise helps enhance your well being. The foundation found that 70% of adults said being closer to nature helped their mood. Not convinced? Read on.
- 65% of adults said that being close to nature made them feel joy, calm and a sense of wonder
- 49% said nature helped them cope better with stress
- 44% said that being out in nature made them feel less anxious and they worried less
So how do you connect with nature?
Live in a city? venture out and you'll find green space. Even a small corner or square to sit and listen to birds amongst the traffic back ground noise, will help. London has an amazing 30% green space for 8.6 million people. It also has 8.3 million trees, 14,000 species of wild life and 3000 parks.
Next comes Nottingham with 18.5% green space, Birmingham 17.8%, Glasgow 17.3% and Manchester with 16.9%.
Truthfully after lock down wanderings, my Manchester feels higher than that. A secret Lake in Levenshulme anyone? who knew that was there a year ago. We are also lucky with 662 parks. We all know walking is good for us. Not sure I'll get to them all though....
For me though, connecting with nature at home is a must. (especially if you work from home - home is home, a haven, not a work place. Separation for me is a must. Oh, and not having work e mails on your phone...).
This is what I do. I am lucky and have a garden (and a rampant obsession) so I spend a lot of my time outdoors or in my potting shed. But what I do in these spaces you can do anywhere. Balcony, back yard, window sill. I grow seeds and feel soil. I look after plants and marvel at how they grow into 2m tall plants from a seed that is like a speck of dust in 12 weeks. I nurture and care. I feed birds, squirrels, anything that moves really. When the Jays come annually to eat the black ivy berries I get very excited. I wait for my daily 7pm blackbird song. I have water for frogs and have been known to nod off in the garden and wake up with a cat (that isn't mine) cuddled up asleep next to me. I grow and eat tomatoes. I kill things (not on purpose) and have major disasters, but then sometimes I notice a plant I thought I had lost, and all is right with the world again. I grow foxgloves, not just because they are pretty, but because one of my favourite sounds is a bumble bee feeding inside one of the flower trumpets. I grow a pretty unremarkable, vaguely unattractive cotoneaster tree just because it sounds like it is alive when it flowers. I love to just stand there and listen to the bees on it. Why? Because I can and it makes me feel good. All these, for me, is what being kind to yourself is.
Find out how to be kind to yourself....we all deserve it, and #connectwithnature may just be the key for you too
May favourite garden view last year