News: #MentalHealthAwareness Week 2021: Personal insights on the wellbeing benefits of nature 🌳
Read about how getting out and about in nature has benefited the wellbeing of members of the Augere Team and some lessons to take forward as the restrictions start to ease.
Read about how getting out and about in nature has benefited the wellbeing of members of the Augere Team and some lessons to take forward as the restrictions start to ease…
When Yasmin asked me to reflect on how spending more time outdoors, both at home and in the beautiful countryside surrounding where I’m fortunate to live, it really made me think about what the last 12 months have meant for me. Like others in the Augere team we have remained really busy during the Pandemic (Zoom fatigue anyone?!), but it has allowed me to use my time and live my life in a much better and reqwarding way.
This has been important for my physical health as well as mental – being able to go on daily walks and a regular running regime has helped me lose nearly 4st and frankly I have never felt fitter or healthier in my life. In turn this has improved my general wellbeing – less tired, better concentration, positive and upbeat attitude on top of being able to get out and do things that to be honest would have had me in an air ambulance 18months ago.
Closer to home, my garden has always been a source of joy, but even more so this year where it has been possible to spend quality time “pottering”; as opposed to cramming in pruning, mowing etc during busy weekends and in between weeks full of travelling and late evenings. I find it incredibly therapeutic to be able to have a wander round the peace of the garden and to see the fruits of the labour of the previous season coming to life throughout the year – and even more so to leave the mobile in the house for a few precious hours and minutes!
As well as enjoying improving my own wellbeing, I have been fortunate to be able to spend quite a bit of time helping others for whom the last year has been a much more difficult and in many cases lonely time. Through my involvement in Freemasonry I have been able to actively contribute to keeping in contact with more senior members of our local communities, helping with the less IT-enable to stay in touch with loved ones, and where rules allow, giving support and showing a friendly face, even in the countryside where possible.
For me, #MentalHealthAwarenessweek is taking that brief moment in time for yourself – not thinking that you have to be “on it” 100% of every minutes of every day and that it counts to be able to take a breath, appreciate the world around you and where you can, be able to help those around you. It’s what has made a huge difference to me this last year.
One would think that working from home and the loss of the typical commute would mean you have more time on your hands but unfortunately we are hearing more and more stories from people whose working days have got longer rather than shorter……this is something I have also experienced. Couple this with the fact your home working space is sometimes the place you eat, socialise, watch TV, etc and you can start to see how the lines between home and work can easily blur. With this in mind it is critically important we try and find time for ourselves, often this is easier said than done but even the simplest things and a break from the desk can make all the difference.
For me, I look forward to walking my daughter to school each morning and enjoy our conversation and just being outside with few distractions….I also enjoy the walk back home where I listen to one of many brilliant podcasts that are out there (I definitely recommend The High Performance podcast with Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes). I find this is the perfect start to the day, where possible I also try and work outside as I find the fresh air (and the occasional bit of sun) just keeps me far more energised all day.
The pandemic has also allowed us to be more inquisitive about what is on our doorstep and we have found numerous walks, cycle routes and local lakes I didn’t even know existed. This has prompted us to buy a kayak and we find that time on the lake as a family just floating on the water really is just ‘us’ time where we truly feel more connected to nature and enjoy our family time. I can safely say none of these lifestyle changes will be stopping as we start to come out of this pandemic.
One of the upsides of lockdown for me has been more time. The lockdown has meant lots of work pressures and I have been very busy dealing with the challenges, but I have had more time to enjoy the peace and quiet that characterised the Pandemic for me. I’m lucky to have a big garden and my children have fled the nest (and I recognise that no garden and a young family would have been an altogether different ball game!), so with less travelling, more efficient meetings and less unproductive time, I have been able to enjoy getting outdoors: doing jobs in the garden, walking locally or cycling around Cheshire.
Even during a busy day of virtual meetings. We are lucky to live in a beautiful part of the country (even though we massively missed our trips into North Wales on our doorstep, but out of bounds). Being out in nature brings a sense of perspective, a peacefulness and tranquillity you can only get with getting away from the hustle and bustle.
So that’s the lesson for me to share during #MentalHealthAwareness week: to take time every day, even if it’s a super busy one, to get outside to take a short walk and reflect on what’s really important. Don’t revert to how it was pre-pandemic. It will help you put those day-to-day work pressures and stresses we all experience into perspective: don’t let them get bigger than they really are or stack up into being a big deal.