Saturday 10 October was designated World Mental Health Day, a subject that is very close to my heart. Every week Cumbernauld Living Landscape’s Wild Ways Well project runs sessions to help people experience the mental health benefits of nature.

© Paul Barclay

There are lots of theories why people benefit from being exposed to nature. Some think it comes from our evolutionary past, that being among the assets like trees, water and green growing things that our ancient ancestors needed to survive affects us on a deep instinctive level.

Others think our brains need to experience the sensory stimuli, the sights, smells, and sounds that natural spaces bring. Alternatively, perhaps its just the break from modern life that helps – stepping away from the hustle and stress. Away from artificial noises, phone calls and appointments.

The list of reasons why we benefit from nature is a long one. The truth is that no-one really knows precisely why spending time in nature helps – but the evidence for how it helps us is undeniable. Spending time in nature relieves symptoms of stress and anxiety, it makes people feel less depressed and less isolated. And it helps people sleep better, improves concentration and clears minds.

As a long-term sufferer of depression and anxiety I’ve experienced all these benefits. Interacting with nature is one of the few things that has ever really worked for me, and it can work for you too. I believe every day should be mental health day. We should all take time to look after ourselves and to look out for those around us – and one of the best ways we can do that is to take a walk in the woods, down by the water where green things grow.

If you’d like to enjoy the benefits of experiencing nature you can join us on one of our free well-being sessions. Get in touch with me by emailing p.barclay@tcv.org.uk to find out how.

Paul Barclay, Project Officer

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Paul Barclay