Today’s blog will be sharing my experience with nature and how it’s helped me own mental health and also talk about why this week matters.

my experience with nature

"Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 Nature" bubble text surrounded by birds and flowers and a green ribbon.

The theme of this Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 is nature.

And I absolutely love this theme.

Nature is something I’ve spoken so much about as being one of the main ways I’ve sought escape and reprieve from my mental health.

From building dens with friends to taking walks through the country, being outside and with nature has helped me in many ways and noticeably reducing my anxiety and stress during spells of low mental health.

I’ve always found nature a calming environment that has been crucial in keeping my recovery journey on track. Being able to take a walk and time to actually think and process what was going on in my life at that moment has been so beneficial to me.

Taking that time in a quiet environment really allowed me to slow things down and rationally have a conversation with myself to keep my feelings in check and make sensible decisions over what to do next.

Also, I’ve found the physical space that nature provides between me and that which causes my mental health to worsen helpful too.

Sometimes this can be literal, like leaving a busy shopping centre. Most of the time, though, it’s just the change of scene that provides that benefit. Even if it’s just leaving my phone in my pocket and actively looking at what’s around me, it’s both space and the distraction from whatever is going on in my life is so beneficial.

I cannot understate how valuable being able to spend time in nature and create that space away from what I’m going through is. It’s been one of my main coping strategies and continues to be something I use to feel better in low moments.

It’s such a privilege to have this platform to share in this week and support the Mental Health Foundation’s work on this week. But just because I close this blog post off, I wanted to talk about why we’re actually doing this.

Why Mental Health Awareness Week Is Needed

Mental Health Awareness Week happens every year and gives us a chance to come together to talk about mental health, grounded by the theme of nature. For me, these weeks put mental health at the forefront of conversations and make it easier for those looking for the right time to have a mental health conversation to find the space to do so.

This is not about banging on about mental health by constantly talking about it. Instead, it’s a reminder that we all have a mental health and we should always have the space to talk about it.

I get it. It can be awkward to have that first mental health conversation. So often, “are you alright” is a frivolous question that often results in a “yeah fine” response. Having Mental Health Awareness Week hopefully provides us with the opportunity to speak up if we’re not feeling okay.

That’s really what this is about. It’s creating a nationwide awareness effort which may lead to more people thinking about their own mental health and feeling more comfortable reaching out to others about it.

The space to talk openly about mental health as and when needed should always be there. Not to let it dominate conversations, but allow it to be expressed without fear or stigma. I talk about this lot because one of the biggest things that have helped my own mental health is the normalisation of talking about it.

And true, being a mental health advocate makes that easier because I’m already so public about the struggles I’ve been through. But that’s why campaigning for these weeks is so important, to ensure that everyone can reach out about their mental health.

So there you have it. My thoughts on nature and how it’s helped me, and some on why events like Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 are crucial for having an overall positive impact on the nation’s mental health.

I hope you enjoyed reading. Tomorrow I’ll be digesting the thoughts from the Mental Health Foundation’s research, but in the meantime, let me know in the comments what change you’d like to see because of this awareness week.

By Jake Symons

Jake Symons is an entrepreneur and passionate mental health advocate determined to share his story to help others. Alongside writing on this blog he hosts Mental Monday: Mental Health Live a biweekly intimate and unscripted conversation about mental health.

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