Being close to nature is good for your mental health
A number of studies show that being close to nature is good for our mental and physical health. A team from UEA’s Norwich Medical School found that being around green space improved wellbeing. It can reduce tiredness, inflammation, stress, depression and anxiety, and even improve your memory and concentration.
In Japan, ‘Forest Bathing’ is becoming very popular but we can’t all down tools and head off to a forest at the drop of a hat. However, the Norwich study included urban parks, street greenery and undeveloped areas with natural vegetation in their study and it all made a difference.
So how can you take advantage of the coming warmer weather and make the most of the green spaces around you?
- Use all your senses to be ‘in the moment’. Allow yourself to become aware of all the sounds around you; trees rustling in the wind, birds and animals, streams or even traffic. Notice the colours and shapes around you, and the smells. The texture of the ground under your feet and the greenery around you.
- Let go of the everyday stuff for a while. Clear your head and relax!
- Enjoy the peace. Realise that right at this moment, you feel a sense of calm, peacefulness, and serenity that you can return to any time you want in your imagination.
- Build green space into your daily routine: take your morning coffee or lunch to a green space if you can.
Further from home:
- Be comfortable. Dress for practicality over style, this is particularly important when it comes to footwear. Take plenty of drinks and snacks. This is obviously easier if you're in a car; if you’re on public transport or walking take a backpack to spread the weight evenly across your back and shoulders.
- Avoid distractions. Take a mobile phone in case of emergencies, but put it on silent. If it’s essential to leave it on, choose a soft, natural sound for your ringtone; running water, birdsong or the like.
- Follow the country code. Take a map if you don’t know the area well. Sticking to marked paths ensures you don’t get lost, trespass or wander into unsafe areas. Leaving gates as you found them, and keeping pets under control is essential.
- Take insect repellant and sunscreen. Prevention of problems is better than cure!
Debbie Waller is a professional hypnotherapist, specialising in stress, anxiety and related issues. She also offers EMDR which is used for trauma, PTSD, phobias and OCD and publishes hypnotherapy-for-ibs.co.uk for those interested in using hypnotherapy to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Debbie owns a multi-accredited hypnotherapy school, Yorkshire Hypnotherapy Training and offers further training for qualified therapists via CPD Expert. She is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words, editor and contributor to the online magazine Hypnotherapy Training & Practitioner, and co-author of The Hypnotherapy Handbook.
For more information on any of these services, phone 01977 678593.
Researcher & drafter on these blogs: Rachel Waller.