Why getting outside reduces feelings of stress and anger

This month marks Mental Health Awareness Week, running until May 16.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 2:36 pm

As we recover from the pandemic, during which so many people have faced emotional challenges, mental health awareness seems incredibly pertinent. It may be that you’ve personally experienced challenges with your own mental health over the past year, or you may know family, friends or colleagues who’ve been struggling. 

At Christians Against Poverty (CAP), many of our clients come to us with a variety of struggles. This ranges from needing debt help to support with finding a new job or budgeting advice. Often through getting CAP’s help people report an improvement in their mental health and a reduction in stress or anxiety. 

With the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week being nature and the environment, we’ve put together some tips to help you make the most of the early summer outdoors. 

Grab every opportunity that you can to get outside

Advice from the NHS and mental health charity Mind says that there are health-boosting effects of spending time outdoors, being close to nature and having a chance to breathe fresh air. According to Mind, it improves your mood and reduces feelings of stress and anger. Plus, it can increase our energy levels.

If getting close to nature means you have to travel a bit further afield, get yourself a packed lunch, take a bottle of water or a flask of tea, and head out for a walk to your nearest green space to enjoy a cheap and cheerful day out.

Both the NHS and Mind websites have tons of great ideas for getting off the sofa, exercising and enjoying the health benefits of the outdoors. Find out more at nhs.uk and mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living.

Spend time in the garden

Even if you don’t have a very big garden, spending time outdoors can be beneficial.

Now that the pandemic-related restrictions are being eased, seeing people outside can be a great way to elevate your mood.

Gardening can also promote positive feelings as you nurture new life through whatever you plant. It’s a great way to grow a bit of extra food too, such as potatoes and strawberries. These do well in containers, so you don’t even need much space – which is great news if you live in an apartment and only have a balcony or window ledge.

For ideas of some of the best vegetables to grow in pots, see balconygardenweb.com.

Check out growlikegrandad.co.uk, a blog written by an anxiety sufferer who has experienced the great benefits of gardening. He posts some great tips for gardening on a budget too!

Get the kids involved too 

You’ll find lots of resources online to encourage the kids to get outdoors, gain a sense of achievement and boost their mental wellbeing. Check out childrensgardeningweek.co.uk and make the most of National Children’s Gardening Week at the end of May.

Seek help with problem finances

At CAP, we know all too well the link between financial struggles and mental ill-health. If you have money worries, seek help sooner rather than later. There are lots of free debt counselling charities that can help.

Just taking this first step can feel like a weight has been lifted. Book an appointment with your local CAP debt centre by calling Freephone 0800 328 0006. Alternatively, have a look at moneysavingexpert.com/loans/debt-help-plan for advice.

Seek help with your mental health

If you’re struggling with your mental health, don’t suffer in silence. Get help through Mind (mind.org.uk) or your local GP.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a UK charity with over 580 services across the country delivering debt counselling, money management, job clubs, life skills groups, and support for people breaking life-controlling dependencies.

Visit capuk.org or contact Lisburn CAP debt centre manager Paul Bailie ([email protected]) to find out more.