Mental wellbeing doesn't have one set meaning. We might use it to talk about how we feel, how well we are coping with daily life or what feels possible at the moment. Good mental wellbeing doesn't mean that you are always happy or unaffected by your experiences. But poor mental wellbeing can make it more difficult to cope with daily life.
There’s a lot of good research to support the role nature can play in protecting and supporting our mental health. In support of Mental Health Week we have put together a list of activities and places to help connect to nature. Don't worry if some ideas don't feel right for you – see if you can find some that do, or adapt one to suit you.
1. Exercise Outside
Run or jog through a local park, or do yoga outdoors. You could try it by yourself, or look for classes in your local area. If you do not feel like running, walking is a great activity too. Meeting up with a friend or family member and going for a walk at a local park can be just as good. London is lucky to have some amazing parks, such as Victoria Park, Hyde Park, Greenwich Park, Regents Park to name a few.
2. Visit places full of Nature
Whether you live by a local park, or by the sea, visiting natural places can help you reduce your risk of mental health problems, lift your mood and help you feel better about things. If it feels daunting to get outside, try going with a friend or relative, or picking somewhere familiar. One of our favourite places to visit is Leigh-On-Sea in Essex. It has cute sailing boats and places to grab an ice-cream too.
3. Watch the stars
Use a stargazing website, app or book to help you recognise different stars, or simply enjoy looking at the night sky. Give your eyes time to adjust, as it can take about 20 minutes before you can fully see stars in the dark. There are even some parts in London where you can see the stars very clearly. There are three sites to consider, Regents Park, the WaterWorks Nature Reserve between Clapton and Stratford, and Grove Park Community Group Garden.
4. Bring Nature to you
Take photos of your favourite places in nature. Use them as backgrounds on a mobile phone or computer screen, or print and put them up on your walls. Listen to natural sounds, like recordings or apps that play birdsong, ocean waves or rainfall.
5. Protect Nature
Taking care of something can be a really great way to feel good. And what better thing to take care of than nature? This can be as simple as recycling, to walking instead of driving, or even joining community conservation or clean-up groups. Taking care of nature can help you feel that you're doing your part, and that can make you feel more positive all round. If there's space, you could build a small wooden nesting box on a tree or under a windowsill or create a haven using wildflowers for bees and butterflies.