This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, which aims to raise awareness of mental health and mental health problems and inspire action to promote the message of good mental health for all. Mental Health Awareness Week has been run by the Mental Health Foundation since 2001, and this year's theme is kindness as the video below explains.
The mental health benefits of being outdoors are well known and one of the driving forces behind us Jack and I setting up Via Outdoors. That's why, this weekend, we're launching a new campaign: #HappyOutdoors! More on that below, as well as:
Why the outdoors is so important to our mental health
What we can all do to improve our mental health outdoors
You can still win a weekend of freedom and the outdoors with us!
As a social enterprise, we want to make sure that we're doing all we can to make it easier, cheaper and greener for you to get outdoors. If you'd like the chance to win a trip of your choice with us, all we ask is for you to complete this short survey. 5 quick questions that SuveryMonkey says will take 2 minutes, and you could win a trip worth £50!
This weekend we're launching a new campaign to encourage people to head outdoors (in a safe way), to focus on their mental health and be #HappyOutdoors!
We want to encourage 20,000 people to enjoy the benefits of nature over the next couple of months and we need your help!
From the launch over the weekend, a few partners and we will be regularly posting tips, advice and info on the link between outdoors and mental health and how people can get outdoors more often. This will be on social media and also through our newsletter, and we're even beginning to talk to partners about podcasts etc too!
So how can you help? Simple - head outdoors, enjoy and look after yourself, tell your friends and tag #HappyOutdoors in your photos. We'll repost as many as we can, and wouldn't it be amazing if just by enjoying a local walk, we inspired someone to better mental health?
Our objective is to get more people outdoors, and aiming for at least 20,000 engagements through hashtags and engagements. We’ll also follow up with a random cohort with a survey to gain a more accurate view of the input the campaign is having, what would be useful so we can continue to support people.
We know from personal experience that being happy isn't always easy or possible, and pretending can often make things worse. #HappyOutdoors is about helping people to realise the benefits of nature, so please be your open, honest and authentic self, and together we can help each other.
The Many Benefits of Nature
Via Outdoors was set up as a social enterprise to make it easier, cheaper and greener for us all to get outdoors.
In this blog post, we explore the latest research on why and how nature heals us, and the science is truly facinating.
First of all, the list of mental health conditions that can be addressed by the great outdoors is vast: stress, anxiety, depression, confidence, bi-polar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, OCD and more.
But there are some fascinating facts too:
Did you know that the brain reacts differently when walking through a park to walking through a city, and that the former helps us stop focusing on negative thoughts?
Or that by touching the earth with barefeet, we regulate our electron levels and can improve primary antioxidant defence systems?
My personal favourite were the studies that showed that surgery patients recovered quicker and with less pain if they saw nature out of their hospital window - just one tree made a difference!
The evidence is unequivocal - nature heals us! So this weekend, why not head out the door, enjoy the weather (whatever that may be!) and be a little bit more #HappyOutdoors? Don't forget to tag us on Instagram and we’ll happily share your great work with the world!
But how can I get to nature during lockdown?!
Fortunately, for many of our readers, lockdown is slowly being lifted but we still need to be cautious. Unfortunately that means that we still can't get our trips back up and running, but we will do soon!
In the meantime, there's a lot we can all do to enjoy the benefits, from walking through a local park to reading a book in your garden (if you're lucky enough to have one!). Here are our top 5 ideas to inspire you:
Rewild your life with the National Trust: a 9 week journey to reconnect with the great outdoors that we really recommend (picture above)
Grow your own: even a window box can grow something tasty to eat or to help out the local wildlife. Not only does it look, taste and smell great, but soil on our hands has been proven to lower anxiety! The RSPB has a great guide on “gardening for wildlife”
Microadventure with the Master of Microadventures, Alastair Humphreys, who has an amazing book and blog full of ideas on how we can all make adventure part of our daily lives.
And for the adventurer in your life, why not give the gift of freedom and the outdoors? Or even treat yourself for when lockdown is lifted?
Each gift card allows the recipient to join one Via Outdoors trip in the coming year, with either transport, accommodation and guiding options so you can customise your perfect present and support a small social enterprise.
Let's get ready for the great outdoors once again?