There's quite a lot of evidence that being outdoors in green space is good for our mental health (see PDF reports below!) Everybody slides up and down the mental health spectrum, the same way we go up and down in physical health when we get run down and catch colds. In the UK a lot of young people are struggling with maintaining good mental health so if you're ever in need of a pick me up or an escape from the pressures of modern society you might like to try reconnecting with nature. Humans evolved exercising daily in green and natural spaces over thousands of years, and getting back to our wild side can make us feel pretty great. Even being exposed to natural light more often can be a big mood booster! Take a look at some of the videos, links and reports below to find out more...
Depression: A Walking Prescription (why walking is a quick, beneficial fix!)
Wellbeing Benefits From Natural Environments Rich In Wildlife: A Literature Review For The Wildlife Trusts by the University of Essex. Published September 2015.
This literature review lists a number of mental health and wellbeing benefits from natural environments rich in wildlife, supported by substantive evidence. These include: Reduction in anxiety and stress; Improvement of mood; Improvement of self-esteem; Improvement of psychological wellbeing; Improvement in attention and concentration; Reduction of symptoms of ADHD in children; Increase in cognitive restoration; Improvements in physical health; Promotion of physical activity; Improved perceptions of general health; Increased social contact.
A Review Of Nature-Based Interventions For Mental Health Care (NECR204). Published by Natural England on 9 February 2016.
This report notes that 1 in 4 of us in England are affected by mental health problems in any one year! Our young people's quality of life can be severely impaired by these issues and, unfortunately, it's becoming more and more common.
Feel Better Outside, Feel Better Inside: Ecotherapy For Mental Wellbeing, Resilience and Recovery. Published by Mind, 2013.
This evaluation was created to inform public health, social care and clinical commissioning groups about ecotherapy and its mental health benefits. The report found that ecotherapy increases levels of activity, connects people with nature, improves wellbeing and improves self esteem. All ecotherapy projects incorporate the 'Five Ways To Wellbeing' which are:
1. A fundamental need to connect to others socially.
2. A need for regular exercise to ward off anxiety and depression.
3. Being engaged in the present activity; being interested and involved with people and events.
4. Learning and setting goals gives a feeling of achievement.
5. Giving back to the planet and community through volunteering improves wellbeing.