It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and the theme this year is Nature. Our relationship with nature is so important to our overall well being. During the pandemic, the Mental Health Foundation found that going for walks outside was a top coping strategy, and 45% of people surveyed in the UK reported that being outside was vital to their mental health. But how does nature really affect our mental health, and how does mental health impact our learning? Read on to learn more.
Nature and mental health
Being in nature is innately human. It’s only recently that we’ve started to work and live in a world that is more disconnected to nature. Reconnecting to the natural world, even in just a small way, can be so beneficial to our mental health. It can reduce feelings of social isolation and distress, and increase how happy and calm we feel. Being connected to nature has also shown to reduce depression and anxiety. In spite of these benefits, a lot of us don’t get the access to nature we need.
Throughout the week, the Mental Health Foundation will be continuing to highlight how nature affects our well being. They will also be focusing on how people can access nature, and the fact that everyone deserves that access to high-quality natural spaces. It’s important for everyone to have clean, green spaces to enjoy that are inclusive and safe.
Mental health and learning
Whether you’ve worked on a project outside or just enjoyed a book in a park, you might have noticed that your concentration is heightened. That’s because being outside can help increase your ability to focus. Along with that, the mental health benefits that result from spending more time outside will help you be a better learner, too. When you’re feeling positive and less anxious, you’ll be more apt to absorb what you’re learning and feel more motivated.
If you want more advice on reducing stress and anxiety while coping with a busy schedule, read our blog post from last month on building an effective time management plan.
Getting outside no matter where you are
Even if you don’t have a garden or a patio, try to find time to take a break and get outside. Visit nearby beaches or rivers, or go for a walk in a park. These activities will help elevate your mood. As well, if you’re physically able, shift your exercise routine to outside. That could be a run, cycle or even yoga. All of these activities can reduce feelings of tiredness and sadness. If you can do any or all of these activities without headphones, that’s great, too. You’ll be able to better connect with the environment around you if you can hear it.
When you do get outside, share your favourite spot with us on LinkedIn and let us know how it makes you feel when you visit it.
Bring nature home
We’ve all been spending a lot of time inside and close to home over the past year. If you can’t easily access the outdoors, bringing nature into your home can be a great solution, especially if you’re working or learning at home. Add a few plants to your living space, and you’ll get a lot of the same benefits nature brings when you’re outside – reduced fatigue and stress, and an increase in happiness and productivity.
If you don’t enjoy planting, you can bring nature into your home through books, films and podcasts, too. Those can all help you feel connected to nature, too, and likely learn something new.
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