Topics for this month:
Top tips on connecting with nature to improve your mental health
There’s a lot of good research to support the role nature can play in protecting and supporting our mental health. However, for many of us, ‘being in nature’ may not be as easy as it sounds.
The good news is, you don’t have to climb a mountain to feel the benefit – there are lots of simple ways to bring nature into your everyday.
The Mental Health Foundation have put together some top tips on how you can build your own connection with nature:
Find nature wherever you are
Nature is all around us. It might be a garden, a local park, a nearby beach or open countryside. Even in cities where nature can be harder to find, there’s things community gardens or courtyards to discover and explore. Look out for the unexpected – an urban fox on your way out for the early shift, changes in the weather or birdsong outside your window. Try to notice nature wherever you are, in whatever way is meaningful for you.
Connect with nature using all of your senses
Taking some quiet time to reflect in natural surroundings using all your senses can be a real boost to your mental health. Whether you’re relaxing in the garden or on your way to work, try listening out for birdsong, look for bees and butterflies, or notice the movement of the clouds. All of these good things in nature can help you to find a sense of calm and joy.
Get out into nature
If you can, try to spend time visiting natural places – green spaces like parks, gardens or forests – or blue spaces like the beach, rivers and wetlands. This can help you reduce your risk of mental health problems, lift your mood and help you feel better about things. If it feels daunting to get outside, try going with a friend or relative, or picking somewhere familiar.
Bring nature to you
Sometimes it’s hard to access natural places because of where you live, how busy you are, how safe you feel or your health. Why not try bringing nature into your home? Having plants in the house is a great way to have something natural to see, touch and smell – pots of herbs from the supermarket are a good start.
If you have a garden, allotment or balcony, think about how you can make the most of it. Grow flowers, plants or vegetables, get a bird feeder and take in the sights and sounds around you.
If planting isn’t your thing, you can also connect to nature through stories, art and sound recordings. Watching films or TV programmes about nature are also great way to connect with and reflect on nature.
Exercise in nature
If you’re physically able to exercise, try to do it outside – whether it’s a run, cycle or a short walk. Walking or running outdoors in nature may help to prevent or reduce feelings of anger, tiredness and sadness. Try leaving the headphones at home – unless you’re listening to nature sounds of course! Or why not try new routes that bring you closer to green spaces or water?
Combine nature with creativity
Try combining creativity with your natural environment. This could involve taking part in creative activities outside, like dance, music, or art. All of these things can help reduce stress and improve your mood. You could also increase your sense of connection by taking photos, writing, drawing or painting pictures of the landscape, plants or animals. Noticing the beauty of nature and expressing this creatively can help you find meaning and an emotional connection to nature that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Taking care of something can be a really great way to feel good. And what better thing to take care of than nature? Nature is truly amazing – do what you can to look after nature – in your actions and choices. This can be as simple as recycling, to walking instead of driving, or even joining community conservation or clean-up groups. Taking care of nature can help you feel that you’re doing your part, and that can make you feel more positive all round.
May measurement month (Blood Pressure)
May Measurement Month (MMM) is a global awareness campaign led by the International Society of Hypertension (ISH), which represents the world’s leading scientists, clinicians, health care providers and allied health care workers, all with a common interest in hypertension (high blood pressure) research.
The No. 1 contributing risk factor for global death is raised blood pressure causing strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular complications.
10 million lives are lost each year needlessly due to raised blood pressure and hypertension.
Only half of people with high blood pressure, know it, so with raising awareness and increasing healthcare services these deaths are PREVENTABLE, this is why it is so important to ‘check your numbers’ as you can have high blood pressure without any signs or symptoms.
Blood pressure is the term used to describe the strength with which your blood pushes on the sides of your arteries as it is pumped around your body.
Volunteers in more than 100 countries screened people in cities, towns, and villages as part the largest free public blood pressure screening exercise the world has ever seen. All participants left knowing their blood pressure and anyone who registered as hypertensive was given advice about what they need to do next.
One way to take control is to use one of the many fitness trackers available on the market such as the Fit Bit. You can use the 24/7 heart rate to better track calorie burn, optimise workouts and uncover health trends that inspire you to make moves for your health and fitness goals. There are also free blood pressure tests offered in most Boots stores nationwide and blood pressure monitors are available to buy in Chemists and various healthcare stores to check and monitor at home.
Ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher. Low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower.
Here are 10 lifestyle changes you can make to lower your blood pressure and keep it down:
- Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a healthy diet and drink enough water.
- Reduce sodium in your diet.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Quit smoking.
- Cut back on caffeine.
- Reduce your stress.
- Monitor your blood pressure.
- Get support from your Doctor.
For more information or advice regarding your blood pressure and the support and advice available please visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/blood-pressure-test/
UK Trauma Council
The UK Trauma Council (UKTC) is a group of leading experts, drawn from a variety of disciples across all four nations of the United Kingdom. They are the first UK-wide platform bringing together expertise in research, practice, policies and lived experience in the field of childhood trauma.
One in three children and young people are exposed to at least one potentially traumatic event by the time they are 18.
What has been recognised from decades of research is that such exposure can increase the risk of later mental health problems and difficulties in personal and social relationships, and of new stressful experiences. However, through improved understanding, appropriate support and timely intervention it is being proven we can reduce the negative impact of traumatic events on children and young people.
The UK Trauma Council offer ‘free, evidence-based resources’ to support Schools, Colleges and practitioners working with traumatically bereaved children and young people.
Symptoms of psychological trauma
- Shock, denial, or disbelief.
- Confusion, difficulty concentrating.
- Anger, irritability, mood swings.
- Anxiety and fear.
- Guilt, shame, self-blame.
- Withdrawing from others.
- Feeling sad or hopeless.
- Feeling disconnected or numb.
The UK Trauma Council have also launched with:
- ‘Childhood Trauma and the Brain’ – an accessible and evidence-based portfolio of translating the latest neuroscience research, including an animation and additional resources.
- ‘Beyond the Pandemic: Strategic priorities for responding to childhood trauma’ – a policy briefing on coronavirus and its implications for children and young people.
- Coronavirus resources – including why childhood trauma in the past can influence a child’s response to the pandemic, as well as signs and symptoms of trauma in young people.
- Research Practice Focus – a video on why some bereavements can be more difficult for children and young people, and what can help.
To view resources and access videos for more information, visit the UK Trauma Council website: https://uktraumacouncil.org/
Traumatic Bereavement Toolkit (UK Trauma Council)
Traumatically bereaved children and young people experience significant distress and difficulties, over and above a more typical grief. Traumatic bereavement can be easily missed or misunderstood by parents, teachers and even bereavement practitioners, meaning that children’s difficulties are not recognised.
These invaluable resources from UK Trauma Council will give school staff and practitioners the knowledge and tools they need to identify, help and support children and young people experiencing a traumatic bereavement.
Find the toolkit here: https://uktraumacouncil.org/resources/traumatic-bereavement
Online Grooming New Campaign (Internet Watch Foundation)
A new IWF safety campaign aims to help parents have conversations with their children about keeping their ‘door’ closed to child sexual abusers. The campaign includes a booklet for parents, explaining the risks, explaining why children are vulnerable, and suggests practice steps that parents can take.
The mnemonic used in the campaign is TALK:
TALK to your child about online sexual abuse. Start the conversation – and listen to their concerns.
AGREE ground rules about the way you use technology as a family.
LEARN about the platforms and apps your child loves. Take an interest in their online life.
KNOW how to use tools, apps and settings that can help to keep your child safe online.
For further details go to: https://talk.iwf.org.uk/
Online Safety Bill – New forthcoming government legislation
Social media firms will have to remove harmful content quickly or potentially face multi-billion-pound fines under new legislation.
The government’s Online Safety Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech, comes with a promise of protecting debate. The draft legislation, previously known as the Online Harms Bill, has been two years in the making.
It covers a huge range of content to which children might fall victim – including grooming, revenge porn, hate speech, images of child abuse and posts relating to suicide and eating disorders. But it goes much further, taking in terrorism, disinformation, racist abuse and pornography, too.
Late additions to the bill include provisions to tackle online scams, such as romance fraud and fake investment opportunities.
Resource – Dove – Reverse Selfie
It is estimated that by the age of 13, 80% of girls distort the way they look online.
This 1 minute video from Dove is really good as a conversation starter both with learners, and at home to discuss why some girls and boys, use retouching apps: is it pressure, self-esteem, confidence?
You can find the YouTube video HERE.