This week (10th-16th May) is Mental Health Awareness Week. This year, the focus is on nature and encouraging everyone to get outside.
With the pandemic leaving a large majority of people working from home over the past year (and hardly anywhere to go bedsides the supermarkets) it has been more important than ever to go out for your daily walk and get some fresh air. So much so, that research from the Mental Health Foundation on the mental health impacts of the pandemic found that "Going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health".
Getting outside can be fun whether you're on your own or with the whole family, reconnecting with outdoor spaces can have a massive impact on your mental wellbeing.
Benefits Of Walking For Your Mental Health
Walking can have benefits not only for your physical health but also for your mental wellbeing too, Walking For Health stated that "Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, and staying active helps those who are depressed recover."
It can be to get up and get out as we all live busy lives, whether you work full time, have children or simply struggle to motivate yourself to move, but it doesn't need to be massive amounts of time - 30 minutes a day is enough. You could even split your 30 minutes into two 15 minute walks if this is more convenient, take some time before work, on your dinner, or after work for example.
If you're exploring the outdoors with your little ones, there are several activities you can take part in. Most parks will have a children's play area, or alternatively you could also bring a ball and play football, jog, read a book and even draw pictures of your surroundings.
Here are a few of the benefits of getting outside for a walk:
Walking (or any similar form of exercise) stimulates the production of endorphins which in turn relieves stress. Additionally, being surrounded by nature, flowers, and birds chirping also gives you time to think and de-stress.
Quality Of Sleep
Quality of sleep is very important when it comes to your mental health, if you're not getting the right amount of sleep it can have an effect on your mood. Walking is a great step to help improve your sleep as it helps our bodies regulate our sleep pattern.
Going for a walk will boost your mood from the endorphins released, you'll also gain a sense of accomplishment for going out and completing your walk. Your self-esteem can also be boosted as walking will improve your physical health so you may start to notice physical changes within your body as well as increased stamina.
Getting out on a walk will boost your energy as it will get your heart rate pumping and therefore give you more energy for the rest of the day, this can be a game-changer for those who feel like they need a boost.
Don't forget, you're not alone. If you need any help or support with your mental health or want to support someone who does need help, the NHS has put together a list of all the mental health charities and the way they can help. If you want to start getting outdoors more often but don't fancy taking up walking, have a read of our list of outdoor hobbies for some inspiration.