Lockdown life and turning Blue Monday Green

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As we continue in lockdown and approach Blue Monday, thought to be the most challenging day of the year, we wanted to emphasise the benefits of getting outside. Sure, the days may feel shorter and we are lacking those all-important daylight hours, but getting fresh air, at least once a day, is essential to our wellbeing and mental outlook. Find out why below:

How can nature benefit my mental health?

Spending time outdoors in nature has been found to help with multiple mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. Often this is due to combining regular physical activity and social contact with being outside in nature.

Being outside in natural light can also be helpful if you experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that affects people during particular seasons or times of year.

What can I do outside to aid my mental health?

Spending time in green spaces or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. So, get wrapped up warm and try one of the following:

  • Growing vegetables or flowers
  • Running
  • Being around animals
  • Go out for a walk
  • Hiking
  • Outdoor swimming
  • Painting outside
  • Journaling outside

 

All these activities can also help to improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, and help you to feel more relaxed. Getting out and doing regular exercise, even if this is only walking, will also improve your physical health and should also impact and improve your confidence and self-esteem too. Likewise getting out for walks with a friend or neighbour can also help forge new connections and ensure you are not feeling isolated during lockdown.

That being said, we are all too aware that some people may struggle to access nature or the outdoors due to COVID-19 isolation, the need to shield or indeed due to specific disabilities. If that’s the case, then there are a few things you can do today to make you feel slightly closer to nature. Read on to find out more.

  • Buy flowers or potted plants for your home. Apart from being aesthetically pleasing some plants, such as Mother-in-laws tongue (Sansevieria Trifasciata), are actually rated by NASA for their air purifying qualities and are credited with removing benzene, formaldehyde and other harmful toxins out the air.
  • Collect natural materials, for example leaves, flowers, feathers, tree bark or seeds and use them to decorate your living space or use them for art projects. Where possible, involve and bring together the family on do this. It will be a great bonding exercise too.
  • Arrange a comfortable space to sit, for example by a window where you can look out over a view of trees or the sky. Notice and note day to day changes regarding what you see, such as tree leaves changing or flowers blooming.
  • Take photos of your favourite places in nature. Use them as backgrounds on a mobile phone or computer screen, or print them out and put them up on your walls.
  • Listen to natural sounds, like recordings or apps that play birdsong, ocean waves or rainfall. Not only are these ever so nice to connect you in with nature but they can be great to aid with sleep too.

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