Poor mental health can be difficult enough as it is, let alone during a global pandemic. This past year has been tough on so many of us, with restrictions on our daily life that were unimaginable in 2019. Now that lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease in the UK, it’s important that we acknowledge the impact that this has had on many of us, share our stories and look at different coping strategies to help.
It’s vitally important that we all take care of our mental health as best we can. No-one should be ashamed of experiencing any type of mental health issue. In fact, around one in five adults in the UK experienced some form of depression in the first half of 2021, this figure has more than doubled since the start of the pandemic.
Mental Health Awareness week 2021 focuses on the benefits that connecting with nature can have on your mental health and wellbeing. Whether you enjoy going on a daily walk, doing an outdoor yoga or fitness class, interested in photography or love to hike, all these activities can do wonders for your mental health.
In the spirit of this, the Phlo team wanted to share how we connect with nature to help improve our mental health and wellbeing.
"Ever since I was a kid, I realised that maintaining a healthy state of mind was dependent on frequent access to the outdoors and an ability to spend time with nature. Recently I have rediscovered my love for mountain biking and it's helped me massively in overcoming some significant low points brought about by a year of restrictions. Finding an excellent mountain bike coach has helped improve my riding ability and my fitness, but it's also had the added benefit of providing a way to socialise again whilst riding local trails with colleagues and mates."
"Walking the West Highland Way has always been a bucket list item, I’ve always enjoyed hiking and lockdown restrictions meant I had been walking more than ever. We realised foreign holidays were likely out the question in 2021 so we bit the bullet and booked up for the challenge. It’s a 96-mile hike from Milngavie (Glasgow) to Fort William over 5 days. As soon as local restrictions eased, we’ve been getting out of the city and enjoying nature while training. Scotland has the most glorious landscapes, we’ve been hiking in Glencoe, Loch Ard and Skye over the past few weeks. Next step is to bag some Munro's."
"Being outside has always been an important part of “family time” in the Beaton household. With the various lockdowns, working from home and home schooling, the importance of getting fresh air and connecting with nature has been so important for myself and my family, even if it is just to count the baby ducks in our local park or eggs in our bird box!"
"I have always loved to travel and experience new activities in different environments. It has been a huge part of my life every year. Unfortunately, with the pandemic this year, we have all been unable to travel. However, it gave me a fantastic opportunity to explore the beauty I have available on my own doorstep. I took up an outdoor kickboxing class in my local park and explored many new parts of my city on foot with the dog. It has done wonders for my mental health, fresh air and exercise helps to give me perspective and practice mindfulness wherever I go."
"I've always been an active person and I hate staying inside for too long. Over lockdown while the gyms were shut, I took up running, something I hadn't done since high school. I was worried I would be terrible, and I was sure I would hate it but I ended up loving it. It really helps get my endorphins going whilst at the same time getting some fresh air and exploring new places. As things have eased, my PT group also started again which has been a real boost to see everyone again and meet lots of dogs passing by!"
There are many simple ways to connect with nature to help improve your mental health and wellbeing. We’d recommend checking out this list of ideas from the Mental Health Foundation that has helped others.
If you would like to find out more information about you can get involved with Mental Health Awareness week and what resources are available to you, click here.
For other mental health support services, you can contact the following organisations:
The Samaritans (UK):
Call 116 223 for 24-hour emotional support or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Crisis Text Line:
If you are experiencing a personal crisis or are unable to cope and need support. Shout can support you with this. They can help with the following
Text “shout” to 85258
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