Are you making the most of the great outdoors?

The last few weeks have blessed us with some truly beautiful weather. The sun’s been shining, there’s been a cool breeze and it’s about as good as summer gets. We’re incredibly lucky in this country because when the weather is good, it’s such a joy to spend time in it. And what better place than the gorgeous English countryside?

This isn’t just because of the way it looks either, trees, forests, beaches and open spaces are incredibly good for one’s wellbeing. You only need spend a little time in nature to realise its powerful destressing effect. I know, for me, if I’m feeling tired, stressed or overwhelmed, the first thing I do is head out to the garden. I listen to the birds and take a few deep breaths of beautiful fresh air. I immediately feel better, calmer and more in control.

forest nature outdoors

If you’re interested in garden design and the science behind therapeutic gardens

click below for your pdf download

What Makes A Garden A Healing Garden?

The therapeutic effect of nature is well documented.

A recent trend – Forest Bathing – involves walking through the woods as part of a group or on your own. It could be facilitated by a trained leader and the express purpose is to access natures healing powers.  I’ve added links to a couple of videos below, if you want more information.

Obviously, there are risks associated with spending a lot of time outside. When the sun is out, I would always advise a lot of sun cream and avoiding direct sun when it’s at its highest. Be cautious when exercising, listen to your body and the signals it’s giving you. Rest when you need to rest and take plenty of fluids and good quality foods with you if you’re going somewhere away from shops or cafes. Know your limits and know that a short stroll round the garden or climbing a mountain are both positive experiences in their own, very different ways.

Accessing the physical and mental healing powers of the great outdoors doesn’t have to be an enormous adventure. As I’ve said, I find my own little garden to be a place of great calm and comfort. If you’ve got a space close to home where you can breathe deeply, listen to nature and spend a little time in the sun, make the most of it.

Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have a garden of their own.

Especially in big towns and cities, many people live in blocks of flats or shared housing, people are transient and tend to move between houses regularly, not having enough time to cultivate and nurture their outdoor spaces. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t places close to home where they can go. London, for example, is full of parks and green spaces and most towns have allotment plots and shared gardens which are either free to use or cost as little as £30/year. Not only do these provide outdoor space to people with little of their own but they’re also great spaces for building community. You get to speak to people, swap advice and equipment, engage in the process of growing things and get your hands dirty; something which is therapeutic for children and adults alike!

So, that’s my advice this month and in the coming summer months; be cautious, listen to your body, but get outside as often as possible. Take a break from your desk at lunchtime and spend half an hour walking round the block, make more of your garden, find a community allotment or park and spend time there. Get out in nature, breathe deeply, listen to the birds and feel the healing powers of the great outdoors.