May Play and Mental Health

The sun has shone on us this week as we explored the woods. We have welcomed new children and adults and shared drinks and snacks and play.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week , which this year has a focus on nature. We recognise the importance of the time for us all to connect with ourselves and others in nature and can see the benefit for all of us, week in, week out as we spend time in the woods together. Nature is so central to our psychological and emotional health, that it’s almost impossible to realise good mental health for all without a greater connection to the natural world.

Some of the ways we have connected this week are:

finding a snail

carrying logs

bridge building and admiring

stream splashing and crossing

wild flower spotting

sticky weed crown making

wood sawing

fire making

tea drinking together

animal print spotting

listening to the robin that was singing loudly in the hedge way

leaf throwing

pushing each other on the hammock

tying up a new swing

creating a magic doorway

"There is a magical forest through there....yeah, all of the bluebells are sweets and the leaves on the ground are chocolate!"

Research has shown that spending time in nature is good for us for lots of reasons.

'Fresh air and exercise' has long been recommended as a way for many to feel better, physically and mentally.

Now evidence shows us that the quality of our relationship with nature is part of the reason for its positive impact on our wellbeing. Researchers use the term “connectedness” to describe the ideal relationship. Connectedness refers to the way we relate to nature and experience nature. A strong connection with nature means feeling a close relationship or an emotional attachment to our natural surroundings.

So although sometimes it may seem that we are just 'out and about' pottering in the woods with our friends, we are actually quietly building a sense of wonder in recognition of our connection to the woods we know and love. And we are ensuring we are connecting with nature in a way that protects and preserves our mental health.

‘There is something to be wondered at in all of Nature’ - Aristotle