This year the Mental Health Foundation has chosen ‘Connecting with nature’ as the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week.

Living in Dorset, we’re so lucky to have so many fabulous green spaces on our doorsteps, even if we don’t have our own garden.

Many of us live a fast-paced life, work long hours inside and have many pressures that affect our mental health. And, this is why it’s worth making the time for nature, in whatever way works for you, even when things get busy and other priorities feel more important.

Robin sitting on a blossom branch

Did you know…

  • spending just 5 minutes in nature can boost your wellbeing!
  • exercising in nature reduces blood pressure, heightens immunity and improves mood and self-esteem
  • 11 surprising health benefits from gardening
  • Exeter University recommends spending 120mins or more a week in nature to get the benefits for wellbeing – similar to the 5 a day of fruit and veg!
  • open your curtains and let the sun shine in – you’ll get a boost of serotonin and Vitamin D which helps to improve mental health and wellbeing

BBC report dated 27 April presents data to confirm that nature has been more important than ever during lockdown for our wellbeing, with links to demonstrate how it can help us manage stress and anxiety and tips to experience more nature.

Get involved

  • Do it, snap it, share it – post a photo or video with an explanation on social media channels and our staff Facebook group and use the hashtags #ConnectWithNatureDorset #MHAW21Dorset.
  • Share the location of your favourite local walks, hidden gems and calm spaces onto this new webpage.

May we suggest…

We’ve pulled together lots of ways and places to connect with nature, without going far at all (or even leaving the house if you don’t want to).

  • Picnic in the Parks is full of ideas to help you live well and love nature. Take some time to explore this Dorset-inspired virtual park created by Dorset AONB Partnership and find inspiration, discover new experiences and enjoy fun healthy and nature-related activities.
  • Dorset is the perfect playground for you to explore, with mile upon mile of thrilling cycle routes, some of the finest walking trails to be found anywhere and scenery to die for!
  • There’s a huge range of gardens and parks to visit, beaches to explore and places to spot rare and endangered wildlife in their natural habitats.
  • Visit Dorset has a wide range of ideas of ideas of places to visit on our doorstep – take a look and get inspired.
  • If you prefer embracing nature at home, if you have a garden spend some time sitting outside, read a book, draw or paint, or just listen to the bird song.
  • No garden, no problem?  Open the windows and let the fresh air in or why not plant some seeds and tend to a new house plant or indoor fruit and veg to bring the outdoors in. Another idea is bring the scent of the outdoors in, through scented candles. You could even complete the atmosphere by playing some soothing natural sounds, whether that’s the gentle flow of a babbling brook, the constant swoosh of crashing waves or the melodic songs of woodland birds.
  • In Dorset, a new network of Nature Buddies will be launched to help support people living with anxiety or low confidence. A Nature Buddy will be a volunteer whose role is to support individuals at a very personalised level to help gradually increase their confidence and ability to enjoy engaging with nature again. A nature buddy will find what suits to the person best and will support them on their journey to living happier and healthier.
  • There are lots of ways in which spending time engaging with nature, indoors or out, can be positive for our mental health and wellbeing. Explore Picnic in the Parks to find ways that you enjoy.
  • Find Walking for health walks near you. Or try the walking trails in the Dorset Council areaBournemouthChristchurch and Poole. Walks with Wheelchairs is packed with information on routes that are suitable for those with access challenges.
  • Natural Choices in Dorset aims to encourage and enable people to improve their physical health and mental well-being through different activities within the natural environment. Take a look at their events page.
  • The Moors Valley Country Park Mindfulness Audio Trail sounds fabulous!
  • Why not try some Park Yoga?

Man walking dogs in the countryside