Mental Health Awareness Week
How time in nature can help reduce anxiety
Mental Health Awareness Week 10 - 16 May 2021
Most people feel anxious from time to time.
It’s normal to experience some anxiety, especially when we are coping with difficult events, stressful situations or changes.
Anxiety doesn’t discriminate against age, sex, religion or race. It affects people individually and in many different ways. It can affect the way we think, feel and act and it can even impact on our physical health if we let it get out of control.
Spending time in nature regularly can help to reduce levels of anxiety and improve wellbeing.
By engaging the five senses, we can quieten anxious thoughts. Using this method regularly can really help to make lasting improvements to our overall mental wellbeing.
What Can You Hear?
Make a point to really listen when you’re in nature. When tuning in and really hearing sounds around you, the brain switches modes and is gently brought to a state of relaxation.
If you find this difficult, use the rule of three: focus on one sound for 1 minute, then move to a second sound for 1 minute and a third sound for 1 minute. This exercise can help to bring you into the present and make you feel more grounded.
Everyone’s preferences are different. Explore which sounds make you feel calm. It could be the Bird song, the wind in the trees, a babbling brook or rustling leaves.
What Can You Smell?
Using your sense of smell links to breathing deeply and enables you to focus on the moment you are in. Try to sniff slowly and let it become a slow breathing exercise. Embrace the smell and give it your full attention. As you breathe whilst you embrace the smell, this will calm your breathing and help to take your mind off some of your worries. Try and explore the scent of different flowers, herbs, fresh cut grass.
Spending time in nature regularly can help to reduce levels of anxiety and improve wellbeing. By engaging the five senses, we can quieten anxious thoughts. Using this method regularly can really help to make lasting improvements to our overall mental wellbeing.
What Can You Touch?
Touch plays a pivotal role in our lives. The skin is the largest organ in the body and the calming from comforting touch can reduce stress very quickly. Our sense of touch plays a special role in reducing anxiety, and helps the nervous system to find a sense of calm. Putting a smooth pebble or a rough stone in your pocket can help to bring you back into the moment and regain focus. Try touching leaves, flower petals or the rough bark of a tree. Walk barefoot on soft grass.
What Can You See?
Try to give your full attention to time in nature and take in your surroundings, appreciate what you see. Saving a picture from a time when the surroundings were relaxing and looking at it during a period of anxiety can hep bring back that relaxing feeling. Watching the sunrise or sunset is a great way to slow down and relieve stress.
What Can You Taste?
Taste is not always the sense that comes readily to mind when thinking of ways to relieve anxiety, but it is not necessarily the taste of the food, it is the health, energy and dietary benefits that come with particular foods. Taste can be associated with the calming of the nerves. Try a relaxing herbal tea - some are widely reported to ease anxiety, whereas caffeine rich drinks can increase anxiety.
Together the five senses are tools which we use to help us navigate the human experience. Everyone is different. Explore what works for you by using your senses in nature - it can have life changing results.
For more resources on Bath Mind’s MHAW 2021 campaign, and to enter the photo competition, please click on the links below: