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...
Reduced anxiety and stress
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.
Improved concentration and focus
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.
A fresh perspective
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.