Written by Anna Taylor
Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 takes place this week, 10th-16th May, and the theme for this year is ‘Nature’. The MHF aims to inspire more people to connect with nature in new ways and ask them to notice the impact that this connection can have for their mental health. At Andover Trees United we are all about connecting people with ‘Nature’ for the benefit of people and the environment so our aims are well aligned.
To celebrate this week of mental health awareness we invited Outdoor Counsellor, Hope Randall-Mackay to tell us more about why this week is so important and the benefits of combining traditional counselling sessions along with the physical and mental rewards of being in the great outdoors.
Hope says, “Self-care has always been an important part of the counselling process, as looking after yourself provides the resilience needed to process the work you do in the therapy room. Now more than ever our resilience levels are at an all-time low, following a year of lockdowns, isolation, grief and trauma as we have been dragged through this pandemic.
As the lockdown restrictions end and we find our way in ‘the new normal’, it is understandable that we will be feeling the impact of this last year on our mental health and wellbeing. The capacity we had to deal with the challenges life throws at us prior to Covid-19 may not be the same post lockdown as our resilience ‘cup’ has dwindled. We have been shut off from our usual interactions and our normal routine of going to work was swept away for many of us. With this in mind it is no surprise that initial reports suggest we should expect a sharp rise in levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness due to the impact of Covid-19.
Now we have the vaccine and our road map out of lockdown, we have an opportunity to grow and thrive and what better way to do this than to immerse ourselves in nature. We can learn so much from the tenacity of a seed grounded with its roots as it pushes through the surface to reach its full potential. This week is mental health awareness week with the theme being connection to nature. There are a huge amount of studies that highlight the benefits of nature when it comes to our mental health. I have felt these benefits first hand and feel passionate about involving nature in my counselling practice which led me to offer ‘walking, talking, therapy’. These sessions combine the benefits of counselling and nature at the same time.
With this week’s theme having a focus on nature, it’s the perfect time to give a nature based activity a try. This could be anything from a brisk walk (alone or with company), standing barefoot in your garden, taking time out to count how many bees or other insects you can find, listen to the birds sing or a personal favourite of mine, try open water swimming. If you are wanting to feel more engaged and part of a community – something we have all gone without this year – then Andover Trees United could be a great place to start.“
Andover Trees United is hosting a Native Tree Walk on Saturday 22nd May (11am-1pm) so please join us for a socially-distanced walk through Harmony Woods; learn about our British native trees and how to identify them. This is a great activity for beginners. Please drop us an email to get involved firstname.lastname@example.org