We asked staff at Hull and East Yorkshire Mind where they go to connect with nature and most importantly why. Read their stories below to get some inspiration.
Here’s Lorraines story:
It may not be The Chelsea Flower Show or Gardeners World but my little patches of colour make me happy. I’ve recently moved so the garden is definitely a work in progress but having a little bit of colour in my life is so important. Watching the flowers unfurl and bob about in the wind is joyous. Even without a garden you can achieve this in any little spot you have. A window box or a pot on the doorstep or taking notice of a random clump of daffodils along the road. How do they do that? Daffodils seem to have this ability to grow in the most unlikely places, which always puts a smile on my face.
I’m no great gardener. I just water and dead head them but I love the ability flowers have to keep going. A few weeks ago they got battered by the high winds and looked a bit bedraggled but they soon bounced back and I think that’s what we need to remember. Things happen, pandemics happen but we can and will bounce back just like my gorgeous little flowers!!
Here’s another story from one of the team:
I love to connect with nature and at the same time practise my mindfulness.
Lockdown without nature would have been very grim and my garden and poly tunnel have been a saviour over the last year.
Cold winter days have been spent making a compost heap and using literally every dried leaf I could find!
This has been a great journey into the science behind composting, not as easy as you might think!
So winter days I’ve headed outside in wellies, hat, scarf and lots of layers.
There’s been robins, a sparrow hawk and cheeky squirrel in my garden, plus a lovely fir tree that I decorated up with baubles and tinsel (ready for Christmas).
The smells have been divine outdoors, sage and rosemary and also the smell of bonfires, which I adore.
So nature for me is ever changing, always calming and at the same time fascinating and absorbing,
Roll on Summer and then the harvesting of veg that my poly tunnel will produce (fingers crossed)
This year I have strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, chillies, peppers, aubergines, french beans and much more.
My aim is to be self- sufficient with organic produce and to learn how to make jams, chutney’s and tomato sauces!
Heres Katie’s story too:
So, I would normally do my exercise indoors before COVID and I was normally the one who would pull a face, groan and complain when it was cold when anyone suggested a walk outside in our house, choosing more regularly to curl up under a blanket on the sofa with the remote and a cuppa.
However, a lack of my usual karate class took its toll on my sense of achievement and I really felt the lack of endorphin release too. But it was the overwhelming sense of a whole lot of boredom that made me go out more. It started with a begrudging walk before and/or after work instead of a commute. I did notice that it separated my head from work mode more effectively and energised me to start my day more than watching the news but I still didn’t really like it much, after all it was still cold or wet at times. Then I started to have a go at running and quickly realised indoor treadmills are boring, hot and sweaty and not my cup of tea at all. Outdoors, the sense of clean air in my lungs and the sight of scenery moving past me just made it feel a bit less gruelling, more purposeful and I wasn’t cold when I ran. Then one day I had a truly horrible day and I realised something; all I wanted to do was be outside running through the feelings I had in the fresh air! That was when I really realised that I need the outdoors in my life.
The shouted “good morning’s” with people across the road, the smell of cut grass and the taste of fresh air in my lungs, the sound of the birds chirping, the sight of the pheasant or rabbit crossing my path and even the occasional deer and the feel of the damp squashy grass under my feet when it is warm enough to take my shoes off and the feel of the sun or rain on my face are all natures energisers. They ground me, give my head space to just be, remind me I belong here and I can take any path I choose at any given fork in the road or decision in my head. At the end of each day, the grass will still be there, as will the puddles and I can go back to them and they will always be ready for me.
Here’s Sam’s Story:
We all need a place to get away from the stresses of the real world, and mine is the allotment. In a summer the evening is my favorite time to go, the air is warm, the hustle and bustle has finished for the day, there’s a silence and everything is winding down. I tend to notice things a lot more. The tomatoes that have doubled in size over the last couple of days, the birds sat in the trees eating the plums past their best and the bees taking the last bit of pollen for the day to the hive.
Nature is a remarkable thing and so are its positive effects on mental health.
For everyone, last summer was difficult in some way or another, we craved freedom and I was fortunate enough to experience that through having the allotment. At times being outside and experiencing nature made me realize how much bigger the world was, and how problems that were relatively small felt a lot bigger in a tiny indoor space. Getting outside with the open sky above me, seeing plants and fruits flourish from the soaring heat of the sun, watching trees blow in the wind 20 foot above me, it put a lot of my problems into perspective. The more time I spent in nature the more I recognized the positive things and the negative things just slipped way, if only for that time spent there. It was a break, a stress free zone, a time when nature was healing me and I was in the moment.
We hope you enjoyed reading these stories and your enjoying Mental Health Awareness Week!
Look out for the next installment on Friday.