Step outside and boost your wellbeing this Mental Health Awareness Week
Have you ever seen a sunset so fiery and colourful that you had to stop what you were doing to watch it? Or gone for a walk in the park to clear your head after a stressful day? How did you feel after doing those things?
There’s an increasing amount of scientific evidence that getting outside, especially to green spaces with fresh air, is good for you both physically and mentally. Did you know that simply seeing the colour green has a calming effect on the human brain? And in recognition of the way the outdoors can boost your wellbeing, this Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 is focussing on nature.
For Christians, the Bible points to this same truth
Jesus encouraged his followers to look at the natural world when they felt worried, in Matthew 6:25-27.
‘Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?’
Now, I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find it hard to be told ‘don’t worry’. But here, there’s something really comforting in the fact that Jesus knows I worry about really practical things like household chores, and checking in on friends, and whether that cough is the sign of something serious, or just that I’ve forgotten to drink any water today! He knows what we’re like, as humans, and that we are going to be faced with uncertainty and anxiety around really mundane stuff. And then he points to the natural world — to the birds you see flying past the window. The birds tell us something about God, he says. He offers us a way to be mindful of God’s presence in the midst of our worries.
It was true 2,000 years ago, and it’s still true this Mental Health Awareness Week
So if you found your daily walk in lockdown helped you feel better, there’s a good reason for that. Whether it’s listening to birdsong, heading to the woods in search of bluebells or looking out across the sea — these things affect us. They calm us, remind us of beauty and of God’s creative genius. Psalm 91 tells us ‘the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands’. We can learn so much about God by simply paying attention to what he has created.
And what’s great is that there’s room for us to engage with this in different ways. You might not be an intrepid, mountain-scaling adventurer, but you don’t need to be. The question is, what helps you?
It could be:
- Opening the window to tune in to the birdsong
- Going for a lunchtime walk somewhere green each day and noticing how the scenery changes with the seasons
- Taking a day out to go a bit further afield and turn off your phone so you can refocus your mind on what’s important to you
- Growing some plants on your windowsill and letting that new life speak to you of hope
- Staying up late enough to stargaze and think about how unfathomably vast our universe is
So why not take some time to boost your wellbeing this Mental Health Awareness Week, and ask God to show you something new and inspiring through the world he’s created? Put on a pair of comfy shoes and soak up some mood-improving, stress-reducing green spaces!
For more inspiration from the natural world, check out this post from our Brand Communications Manager, Claire Cowles, on what gardening can teach us in times of upheaval.