Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 runs from 10-16th May and has a theme of ‘nature’
Nature Heals: Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones.
Nature Soothes: Nature helps us cope with pain. Because we are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water and other nature elements engrossing, we are absorbed by nature scenes and distracted from our pain and discomfort.
Nature Restores: One of the most intriguing areas of current research is the impact of nature on general wellbeing. In one study (Mind 2018) 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed and anxious to more calm and balanced.
Nature can take many forms. It can be connecting with the sounds, smells and textures of the countryside, being with animals, enjoying quiet time in the garden or pottering about growing flowers and vegetables. Nature can also be taken indoors growing plants on windowsills, framing photos of nature, listening to natural sounds like birdsong, ocean waves or rainfall.
At Care Housing Association we’re keen to support our tenants with their mental health and have responded many times to requests for grant funding through our Care Foundation. This was set up in 2014 to mark Care’s 10 year anniversary and capacity to house 100 tenants.
Through the Care Foundation tenants can apply for a grant of £50-£500 per person, within certain criteria, to meet some of their aspirations or enhance their life in some way. A number of tenants have used this money to make their gardens into an improved outside space where they can relax or grow flowers and vegetables or for equipment for other life-enhancing activities.
The tenant at the above property has worked hard to personalise their outside space with garden gnomes and a sitting area with lighting that they’re really happy about. It’s enhanced their wellbeing by having somewhere to sit outside, in a place they have designed themselves where they can get the benefits of nature.
Care worked with prospective tenants and building contractors to make sure the garden at this newly purchased house was made into a useable outside space – see the before and after images above! A garden was designed that our tenants will be able to get the best from. They wanted a space that’s attractive, where they have raised beds to grow produce. The two after pictures show how it looks as the tenants move in.
Some other tenants have purchased garden furniture and lighting, garden tools and in one property pond equipment to keep their fish in good health. One of Care’s houses even has a bench in their garden where they have feeding bowls to feed their regular nightly visiting badgers, foxes and deer. You don’t get nearer to nature than that! Other people have increased their time in nature by getting into fishing and walking and other outdoor activities.
Being with nature is always good for us and for our mental health; it’s never been so important as during this last 15 months of the covid-19 pandemic. Some people have said that nature has been a life saver and there’s no doubt that in many cases, it has.