Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 – how do you respond to nature?
Evidence for the effectiveness of Green Prescriptions which means- doses of nature tailored to patients’ needs - comes from many disciplines. Research has demonstrated numerous correlations between different indices of health and wellbeing and exposure to nature. The most recent overview shows that the evidence regarding these benefits is strong (Hartig et al 2014).
Research has shown that spending time in nature:
REDUCES: stress, blood pressure, depression, anxiety, rumination, ADHD symptoms, and our experience of pain.
INCREASES: mood, self esteem, energy, and our ability to direct and restore attention.
Health professionals increasingly prescribe spending time in nature and we at Moonstir concur. Many of our therapies will include being in, or using, nature to soothe ourselves. Look out for our future courses now that we are opening up to meeting again!
Whether we exercise in nature, we are mindful in nature or even look at pictures of nature, research has shown the changes in our hormones and subsequent emotions. Hence, the focus on using nature as a medicine.
I consider nature as a healing power by looking at the resilience of things around us. Take this picture of daffodils. I see them poking through a terrible man-made piece of barbed wire. I say terrible because I have seen wildlife, my own dogs, humans and even myself, being ripped by barbed wire causing injury. Despite being potentially curbed by the jagged wire, which has engulfed the daffodils' boundaries, they have instead continued to grow strong. They have also survived despite the suffocating plastic next to it. There is a broken door behind it but it is open to possibility of being repaired.
For me this image represents the feelings of many clients who come to therapy – trapped in many directions with no sense of how to escape. It also portrays what I have felt myself when struggling with the constraints of some jobs I have had.
With talking therapy, little by little we can peel away the layers so that we can gain enough strength to free ourselves from pain or discomfort. By spending time in calming environments too, we can help recalibrate our thoughts and feelings thus connecting with the here and now. We can start to see ourselves as ever growing and willing to challenge our worlds. Above all, we can rise above the negative thoughts and feelings to find peace.
So next time you are spending time in nature, what do you see? What do you feel? What do you smell and hear? Notice your breathing and heart rate and spend time breathing in the world you have immersed yourself in. Such a mindful grounding exercise is your key to gaining balance. Take a moment to step outside, or look out the window, and experience a different world to what is going on inside you. Nature has a wonderful effect if you allow it to embrace you.
If you’d like more specific guidance on balancing your mental and physical health, our professionals at Moonstir are here to listen. Drop us an enquiry by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.