Next week is UK Mental Health Awareness Week – the annual awareness campaign by the Mental Health Foundation. This year’s theme is nature, which is fitting – after all, during the various lockdowns and restrictions, many of us headed to our local parks and green spaces for our daily exercise and fresh air.
Indeed, the foundation’s research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic showed that going for walks was one of our top coping strategies, and 45% of us reported that being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health.
Here at Sanctuary Students, we’re proudly supporting UK Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, and encouraging our students to answer the call of nature (as it were!) this summer. Here’s how you can get involved!
We’re beginning to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel – plus, the weather’s finally warming up. This means that walks and picnics (not to mention pub gardens) have become the order of the day – helping us enjoy some fresh air, socialise safely, and get our steps in.
But the Mental Health Foundation says it’s not just simply being in nature that’s important for our mental health, but how we open ourselves up and interact with the great outdoors. This year, they want us to “switch on our senses and really connect with nature” – for example, listening to the birdsong on your daily walk. So, unfortunately, sitting in a pub garden doesn’t quite count!
The positive impact of nature on our mental health
Mental health charity Mind has revealed that over two-thirds of young people have felt their mental health deteriorated during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns. We know it can be tough to remain positive and focus on our mental well-being during these unusual times, but there’s never been a more important time to do so.
Spending quality time with nature can reduce stress, balance our mood, increase our creativity and help us feel more positive. A study by the creators of Urban Mind suggests that the positive effects of a single exposure to nature can last for a whopping seven hours! What’s more, as you log miles, your brain releases ‘happy’ chemicals, like serotonin and dopamine, which can boost your mood!
If you’re self-isolating and can’t go outside, you can still connect with nature. Even sitting by a sunny window can help you soak up some natural light and vitamin D. Keep the windows open to let in the fresh air and spend time looking outside. There are more suggestions for looking after your mental health when self-isolating here.
Getting out to enjoy some fresh air and reconnect with nature is the perfect way to destress as lockdown restrictions begin to ease – especially with summer exams appearing on the horizon.
During Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mental Health Foundation is asking you to do three things:
- Experience nature: Take a moment to notice and celebrate nature in your daily life.
- Share nature: Take a photo, video or sound recording and share what nature means to you.
- Talk about nature: Get talking to your flatmates, family and community about how you can help encourage people to find new ways to connect with nature.
And as for getting outside, there are plenty of green spaces near our student accommodation for you and your flatmates to enjoy. For example:
- Denmark Road in Manchester is opposite Whitworth Park, while Grenville Street in Liverpool is a short walk from St. James Mount and Gardens.
- Coopers Court in London is next to the gorgeous Mile End park, with Moor Lane Halls in Preston being a 10-minute walk from Moor Park.
- Henry Scott Tuke House in Falmouth is a short stroll from the seafront, and Oak & Willows House is a short walk to the stunning riverside in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Plus, if you want to discover some hidden gems of local walks and green spaces, why not ask the Sanctuary Students team at your accommodation?
So, let’s connect with nature this summer! Are you in? Tag us in your photos and videos of you getting out and about on Facebook and Instagram, along with the hashtags #ConnectWithNature #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.
Need extra support?
It’s important to know when to ask for help. Don’t suffer in silence – talk it through with someone. Whether it’s a friend, family member, your GP or university tutor, sharing your feelings will help.
There are plenty of avenues of support you can turn to, including our Student Advice Line from our partners at Health Assured. At Sanctuary Students, your health is our priority and that’s why we offer professional support to help you with any problems you may face, from stress and depression to financial issues and coping. The phone line is open day and night, 365 days a year, and everything you discuss is kept confidential, so there’s nothing to worry about. Call the freephone number on 0800 030 5182 – we’re here as often as you need us, for as long as you like. Learn more about Sanctuary Students well-being services.
You could also look at these pages for advice on looking after your mental health during the pandemic:
Useful information resources about coronavirus: