First News > Mental Health Matters May 21

Mental Health Matters

Lots of people know how important it is to look after their physical health, but our mental health matters just as much! To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, from 10-16 May, we discovered how getting back to nature can help, and chatted to TV’s Dr Ranj to get his top tips!

Why is it Important? 

Our brains need to be looked after, just like our bodies. It’s normal to experience ups and downs in life. But it’s when those things seem off balance and we have lots of negative thoughts or worries that there might be a problem. It’s important if you feel like this to ask for help. The past year has been especially hard for people’s mental health, as we’ve been living in lockdown and often not seeing friends and family as much as we’d like.

How can Nature Help?  

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is nature. There have been lots of studies about the connection between nature and wellbeing. The charity Young Minds found that 55% of young people said exercise such as walking or running helped them during the latest lockdown. So, how can we get back to nature?

Here are some of our favourite ideas:

  • Enjoy a good book in your garden

  • Go on a long walk or bike ride

  • Have a picnic

  • Create some nature-themed art, or write a poem or story

  • Visit a nature reserve or park

  • Discover different wildlife

The Proof

Studies have found that you don’t have to spend lots of time outdoors for it to make a difference to your mental health. Even simple activities like smelling wildflowers or watching wildlife can help. A report by the National Trust called Noticing Nature found that children were more likely to report feeling happy if they:

  • Had a higher level of connection with nature

  • Took part in activities linked to nature

  • Relaxed in nature

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Dr Ranj’s Top Tips 

Get out of the rut – It can be really hard to feel positive when you’re feeling down, but there are lots of things you can do that will help you feel better. A chat with friends, some exercise, getting outdoors for some fresh air, doing a hobby or something you enjoy, or even some meditation, can make all the difference.

 Emotions diary – At the end of a busy day, write down three different emotions you’ve felt and what made you feel like that. If the emotions are negative, try to think of ways you could improve the situation or your reaction next time.

Wrestling with worry – It’s normal to feel worried at times but we don’t want that keeping you up at night. One of my favourite tricks to solve this is the Stress Safe – it’s a really simple way to help you get a good night’s sleep:

  • Get yourself a box with some pieces of paper.

  • Before going to bed, write down what’s worrying you on different pieces of paper, then fold them up and put them in a box – any box will do. Put the box away somewhere it is out of sight – ideally, out of your bedroom – and tell yourself you are putting your worries away at the same time. You could leave it tucked away, or return to the box a few days later and take a look at what was on your mind. Often the issues feel easier to tackle with a bit of distance.

  • But don’t forget: if anything is bothering you, it is always best to talk to someone! Don’t keep your emotions bottled up!

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