Your Nature in Mental Health Awareness Week 10-16 May 2021

It’s fantastic that Mental Health Awareness Week this year is focusing the power of nature to improve our mental health. Being outdoors and just watching or listening to the birds, taking close-up photos of flowers or seeing the sun rise or set can be mesmerising for me, no matter how many times I’ve seen it before.

Experience Nature in your own Unique Ways

Each time is unique and special, moving me out of my head and into the present moment, which is one of the best ways for us human beings to stay well!

For those who can’t get out, there are of course many other ways to bring nature indoors; cut flowers, potted plants, photographs, other forms of artwork and not forgetting the ability to prepare and consume all the wonderful fruit and vegetables widely available to us today in the western world.

Clematis, taken by Sarah Thayer, in Bath, Somerset, UK

Make Space for Living your Life

Yet as well taking care of our bodies and continuing to transform what’s going on in our minds and hearts, it can also be really helpful to clear our clutter, the stuff we surround ourselves with and hold onto even if we no longer want it, need it or love it!

Just as talking with a good friend, therapist or coach helps us let go of the thoughts, feelings and pain we’re holding onto, letting go of our physical ‘stuff’ can be equally liberating. It’s liberating because we often have so many emotional attachments to our belongings which surround us each and every day. Whether we are conscious of this or not, our ‘stuff’ has a powerful impact on our energy and how we think, live and feel.

We’ve usually gathered our stuff over many, many years of living; sentimental items picked up on our travels, in our relationships, unwanted objects gifted to us or just passed down from generation to generation, all of which have our associated feelings attached. Some things we feel great about, others we have shoulds, oughts and musts about holding onto, whether we love them or not!

Taking a new and objective walk around our homes and spaces to look and feel into what we love, need or want, while noting down any thoughts, feelings or automatic responses with each item, is a great, practical way to spark new insights about ourselves and our lives. We soon start to see whether we’ve consciously (or unconsciously) set up our current spaces to live up to the desires of our hearts or not!

Taken by Sarah Thayer in Bath, Somerset, UK

Breathe in Clear Air!

Sometimes we fill up our spaces with ‘stuff’ instead of experiencing life itself. Holding on instead of letting go; feeling bad about having, doing or creating the life we want, fearing the consequences of letting something go. Unprocessed grief, pain and loss are particularly associated with holding onto clutter.

It can be a helpful way to see our patterns too; of people-pleasing, guilt or fears about hurting others; sometimes even when those ‘others’ are no longer alive! The power of our thoughts, feelings and reactions to our stuff can be immense and intense.

This exercise can also highlight where (and why) we have become stuck and shed light on some of the reasons why we might still remain stuck as we begin to understand the feelings we have projected onto our stuff and into our environments.

Another lovely way to bring nature indoors after you’ve cleared your clutter and cleaned your home is to burn dried sage. Smudging – or burning sage – after cleaning a living or working space is a wonderful way to literally clear the air (science now has evidence that burning sage and other medicinal plants removes bacteria from the air). Sage leaves a fantastically light energy in any space (and in my opinion, also a wonderful smell!). You can pick up some really lovely sage sticks from the small, but beautifully formed wellbeing shop in Bath (and aptly named for this article today!) Breathe Out Now if you’d like to try it out for yourself.

Whatever your mental health is doing this week, I invite you to engage with Mother Nature as much as you can and in your own special ways. You will feel better for it, however momentary it might feel. Going back to our thoughts and worries is always a choice, even if it doesn’t always feel that way!

Sage stick from Breathe Out Now, Bath, Somerset, UK

Further resources

Mental Health Awareness Week 10-16 May

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