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Connecting with nature in spring for positive mental health

Does everyone look forward to spring? The change of season for many people is a potential mood booster. There’s the obvious appeal of brighter days and warmer weather. Getting out of bed is a little easier when it’s not dark and cold.

Despite the potential excitement of Christmas, the winter period can be a time when everyone finds life a bit more challenging. Going outside requires layers of clothing, cars need de-icing before the morning commute and the weather is often best described as grey. Linked to the winter months are conditions like Seasonal Affect Disorder which causes symptoms such as a low mood, feelings of despair and a lack of interest in activities.

The change in season then is to be welcomed as a move towards a time when living appears to be easier even if this is not the case for every condition.

Signs of spring

At the heart of the emotional wellbeing, that spring brings is nature. Thoughts of trees, plants and open spaces are ones that we also associate with calm even if our experience is more garden centre than great outdoors. This is backed up by science with studies that indicate spending time in a green space will improve mood and self-esteem while reducing anger and anxiety.

So why isn’t everyone using nature as a way of improving their mental health? Part of the issue is access. You might not live near a park. You probably have a busy life filled with work and family commitments. So finding time to go out and have a stroll in the green might seem like a nice idea but you just don’t have time for it. Like exercise, healthy eating and early nights, you know that it’s good for you but you can’t find space to make it a priority. 

Getting outside

In the colder months of the year, there’s less incentive to do things outside. Why would you want to spend your lunch hour feeling chilly and damp as you walk around a park with bare trees and a grey sky? It might match your mood but is it really going to make you feel better?

Recent studies do indicate that exercise is good for your mental wellbeing, even if it doesn’t entirely feel that way to start with. Even a 20-minute stroll can have an impact on how you feel. But there are other reasons why a walk in the same park in March can feel so different to forcing yourself out in February.

One of these is vitamin D. Having sufficient quantities of this vitamin may play a key role in regulating your mood. Vitamin D deficiency is common in the UK  which is no surprise given our location. It means there isn’t enough sunshine for a large part of the year. And, of course, the temperature means that exposing your skin to absorb the vitamin creating ultra-violet rays isn’t an enticing prospect even it will make you feel a bit cheerier in the long term.

So what can you do to make it feel like spring has come early?

Get a plant for your home or workplace

While immersing yourself in nature is better having a plant nearby is a good starting point. Plants can help to reduce low feelings according to studies.

Try taking a stroll

Making exercise part of your routine is tricky. It’s easy to feel like a failure when you can’t make it into a  habit. So look at things that might get you outside. Arranging to have a stroll with a friend.  Walking rather than driving once or twice a week. Or challenge yourself to find signs of spring on a very short daily stroll around the block.

Will your feelings change in the spring?

Ask yourself if you will feel better in the spring? If the answer is no then make spring a time to start exploring how you can be good to yourself and improve your emotional health. Explore our website. Look at the different types of counselling and see how you feel about each of them. When you feel ready reach out and talk to us about how we can help you explore your feelings in a safe space.

What are you looking forward to in spring? Does the change of season make you feel brighter?

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