A-Z of Wellbeing
As we enter a new year, we have been faced with challenges and stresses that have spilled over from 2020; focusing on helping your mental health and wellbeing is vital, now more than ever. Connecting and immersing yourself in nature is said, by researchers, to be a great remedy for helping relieve stress and reduce anxiety, and that is why we have decided to put together a light-spirited A-Z of how you can help your wellbeing through the power of nature. Every Wednesday we will provide you with a new letter from the alphabet, giving you a suggestion of something you can do whilst you are out in nature or one of the benefits of spending time outdoors through our #WellnessWednesday.
A is for Art
Art is defined as the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. Creating visual art is said by researchers to help reduce stress and promote relaxation; this is why as our first letter for our A-Z of wellbeing we focused on Art. During these stressful times you can utilise art as a form of releasing stress and anxiety that you may have; you could perhaps use your daily exercise out in nature as an inspiration and a basis for your art piece; capturing the colours, textures, sights and movement you may see. Research and explore other artists’ work to see what styles you prefer and to broaden your horizons with how other people define art. Art can be what you make it, so do not feel overwhelmed if you have never picked up a paint brush before. Instead, you could use items you have collected from your walks out in nature, to make a collage, or you could even borrow your own children’s colouring crayons to explore what makes you happy.
B is for Birdwatching
B is for Birdwatching – Birdwatching or birding, is the recreational activity of observing birds in their natural habitat. Spending time in nature is said, by scientists, to have many positive influences on our mental health and emotional wellbeing and birding is one of many outdoor activities believed to be helpful in practicing mindfulness. This concept is discussed and portrayed by our good friend, writer and public speaker, Joe Harkness in his book ‘Bird Therapy’. Joe describes how this meditative interest in birding helped bolster and support his mental health and emotional wellbeing after struggling with his own mental health. He discusses how taking ourselves away from the hustle and bustle of the modern digital world is crucial to our mental state and taking part in activities such as birdwatching can help us all; especially in a climate such as this. You do not need to know anything about bird identification to enjoy birdwatching. Just listening to their calls and watching them fly can be very soothing and it won’t be long before you start to notice the differences between species.
C is for Cycling
Exercising is a great way of helping both our mental and physical health, as it is said by scientists to release serotonin; a hormone known as a natural mood stabilizer. Exercising outdoors can be a very powerful antidote to reducing stress and anxiety, giving you an opportunity to connect with nature whilst reaping the benefits for your overall health. We are able to enjoy nature in many different forms and through many different means, whether it be a gentle stroll, jog or cycle. If you have exhausted your daily walks, perhaps you can mix it up with a cycle around your local park or area. Regular cycling stimulates and improves your heart, lungs and circulation, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It’s also a great way to take in your surroundings, listen to the sounds of nature that surround you, and feel the fresh air on your face. If you’re a keen cyclist we’d love you to share with us how cycling makes you feel…
D is for Discover
A common definition of ‘Discover’ is: ‘to find information, a place, or an object, especially for the first time’. Discovering something new or different seems very appropriate, particularly during these stressful times.
Nature is abundant with ecosystems and species relevant to certain habitats, wherever we go. Whilst we may find ourselves getting a little anxious at home, you could use this time as a perfect opportunity for you to discover your local area and the wildlife it attracts. Whether it be in your garden, local park, or river; look around and see what you can discover – hopefully you’ll find some amazing ecosystems and species that you may never have noticed before.
This time of year is perfect to spot birds up in the trees; primroses and snowdrops are starting to appear and the first signs of spring are just around the corner.
E is for Exercise
This week for our A-Z of Wellbeing for Wellness Wednesday we focus on E is for exercise. Exercise is known to be one of the most beneficial remedies for both our physical and mental health, with the NHS recommending we do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity a week.
Whilst gyms and swimming pools remain closed, due to government guidelines, we can take this opportunity to enjoy your favourite exercise in outdoor green spaces. When the sun is shining perhaps you could try an online workout out in the garden or take a jog around your local park or woodland.
F is for Forest bathing
Forest bathing is a Japanese meditative practice founded within the 1980s. It is a practice of being calm and quiet within a woodland atmosphere, whilst observing nature and focusing on your breathing. Forest bathing is believed to help boost our health and wellbeing, as well as reducing stress; it offers us an opportunity to escape from our computer and TV screens, which have undoubtedly been a focal distraction for many of us during this lockdown.
Using all of your senses perhaps think about how the woodland makes you feel? Practice your observation skills and look at nature’s finest details; observe the tree trunks and the branches and see how they differ from each other.
Why not turn your mobile phone onto silent mode and pick a time of day where the woodland will be a little less busy, to get the best chance of exploring the sights and sounds of a woodland area?
G is for Geocaching
If you haven’t already heard of this unique outdoor activity, geocaching is a treasure hunt inspired activity using a GPS device or smartphone. This outdoor treasure hunt requires you to seek out as many ‘caches’ (hidden treasures) as you can find in differing locations, whilst using coordinates given on geocaching.com. It is a perfect opportunity for the whole family to get out into the fresh air and venture out to new places, as well as exercising your observation skills.
Geocaches come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are really easy to find and others are more challenging. It is a worldwide activity, with millions of caches secretly hidden all over the world and gives going for a walk a sense of purpose. There’s likely to be one very close to you right now! You get to discover new areas and places you wouldn’t know existed, whilst keeping your brain active. We highly recommend you try it!
H is for Hiking
As the sun starts to appear and the days become a littler warmer, a hike outdoors becomes that little more appealing. Hiking outdoors has lots of perks; especially in springtime, when flowers start to bloom, the sound of birds singing throughout the day and the sun beating down. In addition to these particular perks, hiking is also known to be packed with a number of health benefits: it is known to reduce heart disease, help maintain or lose weight and improve our blood pressure and glucose levels, so why not put on those walking boots or trainers and discover a local spectacular hiking path.
At Pensthorpe we have a number of routes and hiking paths for you to discover, which we can’t wait for you to reconnect with once we are able to welcome back our visitors and Annual Members. For those of you living in Norfolk there are so many delightful routes for you to discover! You can find them here.