It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health.
The week, which is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, is in its 21st year and runs from 10-16 May.
This year, the theme for the week is ‘Nature’. Across the country, people will be celebrating the mental health benefits of being around nature in their local community in a range of digital and creative ways.
Nature is so central to our psychological and emotional health, that it’s almost impossible to realise good mental health for all without a greater connection to the natural world. For most of human history, we lived as part of nature. It is only in the last five generations that so many of us have lived and worked in a context that is largely separated from nature. And it is only since a 1960s study in the US found that patients who were treated in hospitals with a view of nature recovered faster, that science has started to unpack the extraordinary health benefits.
In Suffolk, there are so many opportunities to connect with nature such as our beautiful coastline, countryside, parks and open spaces. Plus there are many benefits to exercising outdoors too…
Vitamin D. Reports suggest that many of us are deficient in vitamin D, so if ever there’s been a better excuse to get outdoors and see the sun then it’s to top up your levels of this highly important vitamin.
Energy boost. Deeply inhaling fresh air really helps to clear your lungs and increase the amount of oxygen that’s transported to your body’s cells, which means a boost to your energy levels and a clearer head. Furthermore, it’s proven that getting outside and heading to the country or beach can make you feel happier, healthier and more alive.
Reduced stress. Enjoying fresh air and sunshine can encourage your body to relax and produce lower amounts of the stress hormone, cortisol, as well as lowering blood pressure. Furthermore, it’s proven that fresh air and sunshine can fight off depression, and the happy hormone, serotonin, increases during the spring and summer months when the days are lighter and longer.
Privacy and connection – are both incredibly important to good mental health. Going for a walk, run or cycle ride can help provide us with some alone time to reflect and think, or by meeting friends or family and catching up.
And if you’re interested in a programme of FREE outdoor activities – there are two links below which could help get you started.
MOVE MORE OUTDOORS
Move More Outdoors is a FREE outdoor programme of activity sessions to help you feel healthier and connect with your local community in Bury.
Our Parks is a FREE outdoor programme of activity sessions to help you feel healthier and connect with your local community across Suffolk.