The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. The World Federation for Mental Health sets a different theme each year. This year, it's 'Mental Health in an Unequal World' which highlights that access to mental health services remains unequal, with up to 95% of people with mental health issues in low- and middle-income countries are unable to access mental health services at all, and access in high income countries is not much better.
There is certainly no shortage of scientific evidence to support claims that getting outside can result in enhanced mental wellbeing. Known to reduce anxiety, help with depression and even increase productivity and focus, nature can lift your mood and relieve the stress and strains of modern life.
Here are just a few ways that getting outside can positively impact your mental health...
There’s no denying that being outside is a powerful stress-reliever, whether walking to work, taking a break in the garden, or heading out for a country hike. Nature therapy/ecotherapy as a technique to manage mental health problems – a range of outdoor activities ranging from gardening to cycling through woodland, the programmes are said to improve a range of mental health issues though doing outdoor activities in nature.
Natural sounds and green environments have been linked with relaxation for hundreds of years, and new research carried out by researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School revealed that nature sounds alone are associated with an increase in parasympathetic response - the one that helps the body to relax.
If you’re used to working in an office environment, you may experience something called ‘mental fatigue’ from time to time.
Studies have found that as well as eliciting feelings of awe which give you a mental boost, the great outdoors in all its beauty is ‘restorative’, meaning that a walk outside can restore your waning attention and increase your focus.
Unsurprisingly, the amount of time we now spend in front of screens has been widely associated with depression and stress. It’s not unusual to feel completely overwhelmed by deadlines, to-do lists and daily pressures. Taking some time to explore nature can help put everything back into perspective so you can regain a sense of control.
If you live in an urban environment, it’s easy to forget just how amazing the outdoors can be. Reconnecting with the great outdoors can really help to rekindle your love for nature whilst you ‘unplug’ and take a break from the stresses that technology can bring with them.
“Just a few minutes outside can make a world of difference.”
Despite all of these amazing health benefits, we don’t all take the opportunity to get outside as much as we should. You may be wondering how you can make getting outside part of your everyday routine, or not sure if you can find an outdoor activity that you actually enjoy enough to turn it into a ritual.
Try these simple activities to improve your wellbeing....
Of course, it may not always be an option, but when possible, boost your mood and save some money at the same time by walking or riding your bike instead of jumping in your car or using public transport.
You’ll surprise yourself at how much better you’ll feel for it.
The regular commitment of walking a dog is a great way of exercising whilst getting a daily dose of nature. If you don’t have a dog of your own, friends and neighbours may be all too happy for the offer.
With so many outdoor hobbies available, there’s bound to be one to suit everyone. Try your hand at wild swimming, trail running or stand-up paddleboarding, or if you’d rather opt for something a little less active, why not dabble with some nature photography?
If you live in an urban area, putting a camping trip in your diary won’t just give you a retreat to look forward to, but sleeping underneath the stars and reconnecting with nature will do wonders for your stress levels too.
You don’t have to go far from home to explore the great outdoors! Regardless of where you are, walking or cycling around your local neighbourhood isn’t just a great way to get outside and let off some steam, it’s also an easy way to exercise. Even a shot walks to the shop or the local park can do the world of good.
Whether you head outside for World Mental Health Day, or aim to make it part of your everyday life, have a look at our selection of guides for beginners and advanced explorers alike!
Be inspired to do more and go further by equipping yourself with the best tools for the job. Our maps are built on 220 years of experience - we keep walkers, runners, cyclists and more safe in the great outdoors all year round.
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