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World Wildlife Day - exploring the link between nature and mental health


Sunday 3rd March is World Wildlife Day, a day to celebrate our wonderful world. This gives us space to reflect on the role the natural world can play in improving our mental wellbeing.

 

Nature can provide in abundance for us. It can help improve both our mental and physical health. Nature can be calming, helping to relieve feelings of stress and anger. It can help us relax, regulate and feel more confident. It also keeps us connected to the world around us and is a good way of combatting loneliness. It is also good for our physical health, helping to reduce tension and blood pressure.

 

Our mental wellbeing is helped in two major ways by nature. One, it can give us a sense of purpose. Whether that is due to initiatives like conservation projects or simply gardening, spending time in nature can be a practical thing and give us skills which can help improve our sense of self. The idea we are helping the world and there is something bigger outside our own brains is so important to finding happiness and ignoring intrusive thoughts. Nature also allows us to form connections with like-minded people and create a sense of community or common purpose. This sense of belonging can help us see ourselves as responsible, caring and fully formed people who give back to the world we live in.

 

Secondly, nature is so important for relaxation. It is a calming presence in a fast paced, ever changing, sometimes cruel world. It can be necessary for us to recharge, reset and remember what is important to us. Indigenous cultures all across the globe saw the importance of nature to humanity. This can be seen in ancient spiritualities and beliefs that emphasise connectedness, both of people to their land but also of people’s responsibility to other people. Indeed, here in Britain, pre-historic religion emphasised nature as something to be worshipped. What this history shows is for us as people to thrive, we cannot simply stay complacent indoors in the modern world which can feel suffocating but allow ourselves space to breathe feely in nature.

 

The last few months will have been difficult for many. Winter can be a challenging time and we should all feel proud simply for getting through it. But a new season is arriving. The days are longer, the wind isn’t as biting and the sun is starting to shine. Nature is starting to return more prominently. The grass is getting greener, flowers are flowering and wildlife is beginning to be wild again. And at our own pace, we can start to emerge as fuller, rounder, more self-assured versions of ourselves.

 

So as spring starts to spring into action and winter fades, now is a wonderful time to immerse yourself in nature!

 

If you struggle with mental health issues, it can be helpful to reach out for support. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, seeking support from a mental health professional or joining a support group. Power to live Foundation is a charity that offers low-cost behavioural therapy that focuses on helping you take back control of your life.

 

 

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