Good Mental Health in the workplace is important for every employer to focus on and we take it very seriously. The global trend at the moment has an emphasis on urban living, meaning many people spend less time outdoors. However, as we move towards spring and the weather improves, you might be surprised to know how much spending time in nature or ‘Ecopsychology’ improves your mental health.
We all experience stress through work-life, financial worries, feeling isolated, or family and health problems. But taking time out of your day to immerse yourself in nature has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress and anger, improve your physical health, improve self-esteem and confidence, plus much more. It can also help give you more perspective. After all, ‘fresh air and exercise’ has long been recommended as a way to feel better.
With the growing concern for the welfare of the planet, the rise in veganism and mental health awareness, connecting with nature is a topical discussion. Spending time outdoors proved to be a saving grace during the pandemic when we were only allowed out once per day for exercise. A recent YouGov poll found that 73% of adults surveyed said that connecting with nature had been important in terms of managing mental health during the pandemic.
Taking time to bask in nature is still just as vital post-pandemic as low mental health affects our quality of work and home life.
If you’re struggling for ideas on how you could enjoy or spend time in nature here are some for you to think about:
Visiting parks, beaches or countryside is an enjoyable way to immerse yourself in nature, alone or in the company of others. Going for walks, chatting with a friend or sitting on a bench reading or listening to music is another.
Here are some more specific activities which can be done in and around London:
If de-stressing via exercise is your thing then Swift Fitness offer bootcamps and Personal Training outdoors, or Paolo’s Body Barre offer a mixture from Pilates and ballet to cardio and dance.
Or if you prefer relaxation and a calming environment, offer 45-minute yoga classes on the rooftop of at the Ham Yard Hotel amid olive trees and meadows followed by a brunch. Design my Night have some great options.
If you are looking for more interesting places to walk, there are many walking tours across London to choose from depending on your interests. These are a good way to be sociable, move your body and gain knowledge in the process. Tours include food walking, Harry Potter and historical tours. You can book these on TimeOut.
And finally, a good opportunity to immerse yourself in wildlife and your surroundings – particularly as we approach spring- is visiting the London Wetland Centre in South West London.
According to Miles Richardson, Professor of Human Factors and Nature connectedness, Derby University; experiencing the positive benefits of nature means having a connection to it or being emotionally connected to it. This can be done by listening to the sounds, admiring its beauty, and allowing all sense to engage with it. A stronger relationship with nature promotes positive environmental behaviours such as recycling.
It’s possible for everyone to spend time in nature and its benefits make it a very appealing pastime. Contact with nature generates an increase in positive emotions and feelings of vitality, and a decrease in negative emotions. It also provides relief from mental tiredness, and an improvement in our attention span.
Spending time in nature is beneficial in the workplace; for example, people with ‘higher exposure’ to nature (I.e., those who take more frequent breaks to spend time outdoors in green spaces), reported significantly higher work engagement compared to the participants in the same study who spent more time in the office or took indoor breaks (lower exposure).