There’s a lot of research to support the role nature can play in supporting our mental health.
However, connecting with nature is easier said than done, so here are some tips to help you and your little one connect with nature (based on tips provided by The Mental Health Foundation).
1. Find nature wherever you are
Nature is everywhere! A garden, park, bench, countryside. You can find it by looking out for the unexpected – a birdsong outside, changes in weather, little patches of green surrounded by concreate.
Try to notice nature around you, wherever you may be and in whatever way it is meaningful to you.
Why not turn it into a hunt with your little one? How many natural things can you notice within a day and what does it mean to you?
2. Connect with nature using all of your senses.
Taking quiet time to reflect within nature can be a great boost to your mental health. You can relax in the garden, listen out for a birdsong, look for wildlife like bees and butterflies or just notice the movement of the clouds.
Why not lie down with your little one to look for characters or animals in clouds?
3. Get out into nature
If possible, try spending time visiting natural places such as gardens, forests, rivers, beaches. This can help put you in the setting where you can start noticing nature and connecting with it.
If it feels a little daunting to get outside why not go with a friend, take your little one or pick somewhere that’s familiar to you.
4. Bring nature to you
Sometimes it’s difficult to get to natural places, depending on where you live and your modes of transport. So why not try brining some nature into the home?
House plants are a great step to invite nature into your home – a good starting point is herb pots from the supermarket. These will allow you to see, touch, smell and taste something natural.
If you have a balcony or garden, why not make the most of it? Grow plants, vegetables or flowers. You can also add in a bird feeder or bug hotel to bring the nature to you.
If planting isn’t up your street why not try connecting with nature through art, recordings or stories. Watching TV programmes are also a great way to start connecting with nature (and something you can do with your little one).
5. Exercise in nature
If you are able to exercise, why not try to do it outside? This can be a walk, run or cycle – but try to leave your headphones at home and listen out for nature.
6. Combine nature with creativity
Why not try being creative with nature? This is something you can do with your child as well! Crafting with natural materials, taking photos, drawing, dancing, playing or listening to music. These can all reduce stress and improve your mood.
Noticing the beaty of nature can help you form that connection we’ve been talking about.
7. Protect nature
As discussed, nature can boost our mental health but to have nature to connect with, we need to protect it (it can also feel really good doing it!).
This can be anything from recycling or walking instead of driving all the way to joining eco-communities or clean-up groups.
These are just 7 ways in which you can connect with nature to nurture your mental health. However, there are plenty of other ways to do this and whatever works for you is valid.