Letting Nature lift your mood
Hello! Another week at home waiting for the promised dates when things will start to open up after lockdown! Chris and I keep looking at Busby, our campervan, and wondering whether to start getting it ready for a future trip, but it is too early, so I stick to planning where we will go when it is safe to do so.
Staying close to home is challenging for everyone, especially for people who live alone, or are cut off from family and friends. I miss my family hugely, and long for the day when we can sit around a big table, chatting, playing games and enjoying hugs again.
All of those things are restorative and stimulating to us, and in their absence, we need to look for other ways to take care of our mind and body. Connecting by zoom or skype, telephone calls, and even letters and postcards is a real help. I have sent, and received, some lovely surprise cards during lockdown, and they are definitely a mood booster!
For me, getting outdoors is the best way to lift my mood, even if it is raining or windy. Exercise in any form releases endorphins, our feel good chemicals, and there is plenty of research to show that getting outside has many benefits.
Being near, on or in water is proven to have many restorative properties. Waves crashing, or lapping against the shore, a waterfall, or a stream bubbling over stones, a lake, a pond or a fountain. Take some time to look, listen, smell and even feel the water. Some of you may like to swim as well. A good friend swims every day of the year in the sea! Brrrrr – not for me, but whatever you do, please stay safe!
Some of my favourite Blue Mind places include:
1. A beautiful, quiet beach or coastline in: the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, Holkham beach in North Norfolk, Seaford Head in East Sussex, the Gower peninsula, the Outer Hebrides or Northumberland;
2. River paths, especially alongside the River Coquet in Northumberland, the Thames Path and stretches of the River Stour in Dorset;
3. City lakes and canals, like St James Park and Regents canal in London.
Blue Mind Theory, championed by Wallace J Nicholls in his book Blue mind, explains the benefits. Check out Wallacejnichols.org for more information.
Here in the UK, Lizzi Larbalestier runs excellent Blue Health coaching and courses using her coastal location in Perranporth, Cornwall. Find out more at Goingcoastal.blue
Green spaces are wonderfully therapeutic too. A forest, parkland, garden, walking barefoot across the grass, or even laying on it, can have a soothing effect. Forest bathing, which is a Japanese art of relaxation called shinrin yoku, is an increasingly popular concept and links mindfulness with being in green spaces. Healingforest.org is a lovely site.
Some of my favourite green space walks and picnic spots are:
1. Mill Lawn in the New Forest,
2. Cranborne chase in Dorset,
3. Long Mynd in Shropshire
4. Forest of Dean and Westonbirt arboretum in Gloucestershire.
I use online maps wherever I am to look for blue or green spaces. There are often some in your neighbourhood that you don’t realise exist. Since lockdown, we have found new streams to walk alongside, two new parks and a series of wildlife ponds, all within walking distance of home… and we live in a town! Find your space, and give yourself time to take it all in.
If you really cannot get out and about, recent studies have shown that watching moving water, forest scenes, or country walks on television can bring you some of the benefits of actually being there.
I even find that looking back through old photos of beautiful scenic places I have visited can reduce my anxiety and stress.
Add a comment and share your favourite places, or other ideas for letting nature lift your mood.