Our mental health, along with our physical wellbeing, can benefit greatly from nature.
Spending time outdoors positively affects our lives, improving our mood, upping our confidence, reducing stress and allowing us to concentrate on looking after ourselves.
Research has proven that, natural environments positively affect our mental health. Nature, with its pleasant, calming and soothing qualities, is often chosen to help us restore and maintain our wellbeing and good mental health.
We have partnered with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to bring our Get Into Nature campaign to people across Northern Ireland. Please follow this campaign on MyNI Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and get great tips from us and from others on getting the most out of nature.
We are encouraging everyone, regardless of their age, to get into the outdoors and take the time to be mindful of their surroundings. To mark the end of the campaign, we are hosting a free event on Saturday 5th October at Crawfordsburn Country Park. We have a range of wellbeing activities that you, your family and friends can all enjoy:
- Connect with Nature Sound Healing Spa
- Yoga for everyone
- Meditative mindfulness
- 'Ready for Anything' (building and developing resilience skills for children)
To book your space follow the link>> www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/get-into-nature-tickets-72053175989
If you are unable to attend, don't fret. It’s easy to engage with the green spaces around us. Here’s some handy tips:
Everyone is different, and we will all take different things from the natural world around us, but even something as simple as going for a walk provides us with fresh air and a change of scenery. Equally, sitting somewhere quiet and admiring a view allows us to experience calming, positive feelings.
Research has shown that being out and about is good for our mental health. Soaking up some natural sunlight will refresh us if we spend long periods indoors and the realness of nature provides us with perspectives that are often blurred by our daily lives.
Take a walk
One of the easiest ways to enjoy nature, going for a stroll allows us space to think while also getting some gentle exercise. Northern Ireland boasts a range of country parks that are perfect for walking and exploring. Check out which one is nearest to you. For your handy guide to walks around Northern Ireland, you can visit Walk Northern Ireland or you can explore your local country parks. You can see the locations of 7 beautiful country parks and a countryside centre on a very simple map here and they’re all free to visit.
Go jogging along the coast. Book a spot on the community tennis court. Train or do yoga in the local park. We can make time for ourselves and do these things solo, or we could look into local groups, such as a running club, and make new connections in the process. Whatever you do, your fitness and confidence levels will go up. You can find a programme near you via Active NI.
Go for a picnic in the park or, where it’s allowed, get together with family for a barbeque (don’t forget to collect any litter). If there’s a free concert or festival in the local green space, drop in to check it out. Even spending a few hours sitting on the grass with friends frees us from the stresses of daily life. Check out What's On NI for details of all events throughout Northern Ireland.
Help with conservation
Volunteer for a local project – check on schemes in your area – or take on your own task, like building a bird or hedgehog house. Creating something to benefit the ecosystem around us is a fulfilling venture that builds confidence, self-worth and focuses on a positive outcome.
Take in the world
Appreciate how your senses respond to the elements of nature around us. There are things to smell, taste, touch, hear and see, all of which centre our thoughts on the simple, natural environment in which we exist. Grab five minutes out of your day, go outside and concentrate on the world. Download a mindfulness or meditation app and take a moment.
Whatever you do, however you do it, being outside can, and will, do you a great deal of good. It’s easy to get out into the fresh air. You can check on the wellbeing resources near you through our Wellbeing Activities page.