This week is Mental Health Awareness week. Although the complexity and wide reaching effects of mental health cannot be addressed in one week, the week is crucial in raising awareness and promoting understanding of mental health issues. It provides an opportunity to discuss the importance of mental well-being, reduce stigma, and encourage support for those struggling with mental health challenges. It’s crucial to engage in conversations, share resources, and promote self-care practices to improve overall mental health. Here at Nene Valley Firewood we have been reflecting on the small ways we find some respite from everyday stressors. Something we could all agree on was getting outside and engaging with nature. Not only is it free and accessible to all, it has been found to be very beneficial on our mental health. In the words of John Burroughs, American Naturalist,:
‘I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order’
With the demands of modern day life it can be tricky to carve out time to get outside. However, integrating it with one of your daily habits can make it more achievable. For example instead of eating your dinner indoors all the time, you could aim to eat outside a few days a week. Although the UK isn’t famous for outdoor dining with its temperamental weather conditions, summer is well on the way! Being outside, without the distraction from technology, helps you to engage more fully with your senses which allows you to taste and enjoy your food more fully.
Outdoor dining is thought to positively impact mental health in several ways:
- Connection with nature: Being in natural environments, such as parks or gardens, can have a calming and soothing effect on the mind. The presence of greenery and fresh air can reduce stress, anxiety, and improve mood.
- Vitamin D and sunlight: Eating outdoors exposes you to natural sunlight, which helps your body produce vitamin D. Adequate levels of vitamin D are essential for overall well-being and can contribute to improved mental health.
- Mindfulness and relaxation: Enjoying a meal outdoors provides an opportunity to practice mindfulness. Paying attention to the sensory experiences of eating, such as the taste, smell, and texture of food, can help you be present in the moment and foster a sense of relaxation.
- Social connection: Eating outdoors often involves socializing with others, whether it’s family, friends, or even strangers. Social interactions and connecting with others have a positive impact on mental health by reducing feelings of loneliness and fostering a sense of belonging.
- Change of environment: Breaking away from the monotony of indoor spaces and routine can have a refreshing effect on mental well-being. Being in a different environment can stimulate the senses and provide a sense of novelty, leading to a more positive mood and mindset.
Remember, eating outdoors is just one way to support mental health. It should be combined with other self-care practices, such as regular exercise, adequate sleep, and seeking professional help when needed. If you, or someone you know are needing support the Mind website offers lots of free information and support https://www.mind.org.uk/get-involved/mental-health-awareness-week/.
If you are looking for some inspiration to improve your outdoor dining experience, check out our For The Garden Range.