You can find lots of wonderful resources if you follow the link above, including top tips to connect with nature, why they’ve chosen the theme, nature research and policies. They are a wonderful organisation who do so much important work when it comes to dismantling the taboos and hardships mental health faces.
I usually take to my social platforms during events such as this to talk about my own journey. I do so not for the attention, trust, no one enjoys talking about their monsters. I do, however, do it to show that it’s okay to struggle. It’s normal. No, it isn’t just you. Sharing is caring, wink wink.
This year’s theme is incredibly important. It may sound silly for some, but we forget just how important nature is to our overall wellbeing; not just Mental Health Awareness Week, but all year round. I can first hand admit that when things are tough, I do not want to go out. A walk in the park is anything but. Being outside in fresh air, as fantastic and refreshing as it truly is, can feel like embarking on Mount Everest. Hell, when things are at its worst, changing your clothes every third day is hard enough, not to mention showering and brushing your teeth.
I always said I was a city girl. When someone suggested a trip to a forest, going for a hike, spending the day in a national park, I’d just scoff and say no id rather take a glass of wine of a busy side walk before heading downtown in between my never-ending appointments, gigs and shifts. I “loved the hustle and bustle”, because the world never stopped. In nature, everything stops. Or rather, slows down. You’re left only with yourself, your thoughts, the core of existence. The business of the city, the stress, the never ending cycle of hustle fades away and you have to sit in your feelings for a bit. Now that, that’s scary.
It’s incredibly important, but it is scary. Especially when you have been avoiding it for a long time, who knows what’s been bottled up? Will it be a fizzing mess, will the cork go flying meters up into the air, bubbles and liquid spewing out in every direction, or will it be a satisfying POP in the palm of your hand, nice and controlled, the pressure consistent, but manageable?
These days, I love the outside. Going for walks. The fresh air. I grew up by the seaside. It only took 5 years of antidepressants, being severely suicidal, diagnosed with clinical depression, panic anxiety and you know – a world wide pandemic – but now, I love nature. It cleanses both lungs and brain, it shows you the bigger picture and it humbles your existence. Although I may be having a right down shit day, and as much as I want to kick and scream in bed to not have to move an inch from the sheets, I force myself up and grab the nearest shoes (usually the ensemble I’m in will be rather uncoordinated and a little hot-messy), but I get up and I go out the door. Even if I only manage down the street and back up again, or if I manage half an hour, getting up and out – may not fix everything. But it sure as heck makes it a lot easier.
This week, make sure you take some extra time to enjoy your favourite aspects of nature, and more importantly, look after yourself – not just MENTAL HEALTH awareness week.