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How nature can help improve your mental health

This week has been 'Mental Health Awareness Week' the theme of this is 'Nature and Mental Health' so I felt it only right to base this month's blog all around how nature can help improve your mental health.

Being out in nature can help in the following ways: Improve your mood: Being out in nature can help improve your mood as it can be used as a escape from everyday life's stresses. Being outside is a great distraction as seeing/feeling/hearing and smelling different things around you can completely shift your mindset, somethings may even bring back memories. It can also give you the chance to clear your mind, as when you are out for a walk they may be some distractions but not near as many if you were at work or at home, giving your mind the chance to work through what it is needing to. Reduce negative feelings and help you feel calmer: Being out and about can help reduce negative feeling of stress, anxiety and anger by getting away from the cause of the negative feeling. In essence, distracting you from the trigger. Being out in nature can help can help you feel calmer as you will be able to switch off from everyday stresses and focus on the sounds of birds singing or the sound of the stream running. When you are out and about this is a fantastic opportunity to start practicing mindfulness techniques by taking a few minutes really listening to the noises around you, really feeling the sun (or rain) on your skin and truly being present for that short amount of time.

Helps you be more active: Going out for regular walks will also have a positive affect on your physical health by you becoming more active. Even if this a simple 10 minute walk every couple of days or a 10 mile hike every weekend any exercise will cause the release of chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. Helps you create new social connections and peer support If you go to a regular spot or on the same walk you may start to see same faces, you may start conversations with these people and create new friendships. You may come to realise that certain communities have their own walking or running groups, if you start to really enjoy walking or even running possibly look into these groups as this is a great way to keep active and meet new people. You may even find friends for your 4 legged friends too! There are also dog walking groups that you could look into. What if I can't get out and about?

For some people getting out for walk may not be possible. This does not mean that nature cannot help. If you have a garden, make it your relaxing safe place filled with plants and flowers that make you smile, maybe even a vegetable patch that you could attend to? Something that gives you motivation to go outside in the fresh air. If a garden isn't assessible either, bring the nature to you, look for indoor plants that you can attend to, the more colourful the better. Have a seat next to your window every now again, open it wide to let that fresh air in, listen to the sounds and take note of them, look out at the view and take notice of the little details you may have bypassed before.

When it comes to improving your mental health it isn't a one size fits all situation, you have to find something that fits your personal circumstances, alter techniques and tools to fit you. Make things personal to you so that they feel more comfortable when using them. Somethings you may really resonate with and some things you may not, this is completely normal. You wouldn't worry if you didn't like a certain flour of food so why would you worry that a certain technique doesn't suit you? You would simply pick a different option off the menu.

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