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 Nature’s Prescription

Guest blog by Jackie Scruton

I was struck recently by two newspaper articles both in their own ways linking mental well-being to nature and the environment. This is a topic we have explored before but as the days become a little longer, this seemed an opportune time to remind ourselves of the benefits. Bear Grylls, the Chief Scout, recognises that life can be run at a hectic pace and that is important at times to put the brakes on and take some time out in order to find some stillness in our day. This can be achieved by taking notice and focus on our breathing. This helps to lower the heart rate, reduce tension and as a result can help us feel calmer and in control. A good place to practise this is in a green space, a park or your garden. If possible taking your shoes and socks off can be helpful in grounding yourself. Going barefoot can enable you to connect with the earth (we have more than 7000 nerve endings in our feet) and this in turn can help circulation and may enable you to put your head in a different space . This is not dissimilar to forest bathing , again a topic we have covered before.

In Norway, there is a growing philosophy, “Friluftsliv”, the literal translation of which is “free, air, life”. Academics from the University of Essex suggest that just five minutes of outdoor activity is enough to boost your mood and is better for mental health than exercising indoors. It seems there is no specific activity linked to this, rather it could mean anything from cycling, camping or even foraging in the woods. What is important is that you do this whatever the weather. Of course, engaging with nature  can be more problematic if you live in an urban environment, however cities have green spaces, parks, playgrounds and even churchyards. Bente Lier general secretary of the “Friluftsliv” association advises anyone new to this to keep it simple, take a walk in the park or on a beach and take time to look and listen to what is around you.

Thank you to Jackie Scruton for this blog. Jackie is a great example of putting this advice into practice!

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