Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week. This year, the focus was on how nature can improve our mental wellbeing.
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you’ll know that being in nature is my happy place. Even if it is pouring with rain, getting outside to see something green is the one thing guaranteed to improve my mood (yes, even more than wine or chocolate!).
It connects very much with the mindfulness teaching in my Bee Empowered course too. I encourage all my students to spend time intentionally in nature. That could be listening to a bird, cloud-watching, or paying close attention to some of the flowers in your local park.
Paying attention to nature
One of the mindful exercises I suggest is to find one plant and really pay attention to it with as many senses as you can.
When I noticed this camellia, I took the time to SEE the beautiful whirl of pink, the waxiness of the leaves, the brown where the frosty mornings had left their mark.
I SMELT it to see if there was any scent. Sadly not.
I TOUCHED the petals gently and stroked the edge of the leaves, noticing their roughness.
I LISTENED to the sound the of the wind swaying through the bush and rubbing the branches and leaves against each other.
You’ll be relieved to hear I refrained from licking anything! But if you’re admiring a herb, go for it!
This quick and simple mindful practice really helps ground us in the present, away from all those anxious thoughts about tinnitus and, well, life. Body and mind both in the same place at the same time.
Bringing the outdoors indoors
You don’t even need to leave the house to get the boost to wellbeing that nature provides. If you have a house plant or culinary herbs on the windowsill you can do the mindfulness exercise above and benefit from the lift in mood.
You might be surprised to read that research has shown that looking at photos of nature can also improve your mental health. This is fantastic if you are unable to leave your home for any reason or are uninspired by your surroundings when you do go out. Just grab your mobile phone, tablet or laptop and find pictures of nature that make you smile. It might be the beach, it might be rolling green hills, or rocky mountains. This is mine – nowt special. Just a dog, a path and some spring trees, but it cheers me up every time I reach for my phone (which is often, as my husband will testify!).
So, on this May Monday, set your intention to spend time with nature in real life, or photos of nature. Let it soothe you. Let it show you there are awe-inspiring things in the world. Let it remind you that you are so much more than your tinnitus. You are a part of something wild and wonderful.