Mental Health Awareness Week, 10-16 May is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation. The theme for this year is nature and how connecting with the natural world can support good mental health.

Being close to nature can improve your mental health, make you feel less worried or anxious and increase positive feelings.

The last year has been tough for so many reasons and for some it will be having a lasting impact. Whether you’ve only recently found you are struggling with your mental health or you can’t remember the last time you felt okay, there is support out there.

Go outdoors

To look after your mental health you might want try to make a habit each day of connecting to the nature in your local area. Stop to listen to the birdsong, smell the freshly cut grass, take care of a house plant, notice any trees, flowers or animals nearby. Take a moment to appreciate these connections.

If you are able to get outside and enjoy the beautiful countryside, beaches and parks that East Sussex has to offer our articles Keep it going for National Walking Month, Staycation in East Sussex this summer , Best beaches in East Sussex have some great tips.

Bring the outside in

Sometimes it’s hard to access natural places because of where you live, how busy you are, how safe you feel or your health. Why not try bringing nature into your home? Having plants in the house is a great way to have something natural to see, touch and smell – pots of herbs from the supermarket are a good start.

If you have a garden, allotment or balcony, think about how you can make the most of it. Grow flowers, plants or vegetables, get a bird feeder and take in the sights and sounds around you.

If planting isn’t your thing, you can also connect to nature through stories, art and sound recordings. Watching films or TV programmes about nature are also great way to connect with and reflect on nature.

Get creative

Try combining creativity with your natural environment. This could involve taking part in creative activities outside, like dance, music, or art. All of these things can help reduce stress and improve your mood. You could also increase your sense of connection by taking photos, writing, drawing or painting pictures of the landscape, plants or animals. Noticing the beauty of nature and expressing this creatively can help you find meaning and an emotional connection to nature that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Ask for help

Connecting with nature can definitely help but if you need more support, that’s okay. However you’re feeling, you don’t need to go through this alone. There is support available.

To mark Mental Health Awareness week we have a round up of articles that we hope will help you navigate your feelings and find the right support for you.

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