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by Natalia Nunes

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, Biophilia is the ‘love of living things and nature, which some people believe humans are born with’; a word I hadn’t come across before.

My anxiety and bouts of low mood

If I were to attempt to describe my mental health, I would say anxiety and bouts of low mood that results in ‘over stimulation’. It’s as if the worries of the world and quite frankly too many conversations lead to feeling extremely overwhelmed; my anxiety levels increase and that leads to feeling somewhat depressed. Depressed that the increased anxiety levels made me so emotional and on edge. The depressive state also comes from the fact that I feel overwhelmed from having a simple conversation and I feel the need to be alone.

I often think about the differences between adulthood and childhood and what really comes to mind is freedom or the lack thereof as an adult. To be specific the freedom of the mind; zero stress.

I often say that I am yet to become an “adult adult”, but I guess that’s how we all feel. So, in my current age as just an adult I feel the mental pressures to be successful whatever that may mean. When that anxiety builds and in turn leads to lower mood levels, there’s nothing more, I want to do than to wonder aimlessly in nature in silence; and simply that’s what I do.

Did you know, The World Health Organisation expected stress related illness, such as mental health disorders to be one of the largest contributors to disease by 2020.  I deem that the partial responsibility of our progressive world including advances with technology for example. It’s no wonder it was noted by James R Miller in ‘Biodiversity conservation and the extinction of experience’: “Because of technological advancements and more time spent inside buildings and cars, this disconnects us from nature; biophilic activities and time spent in nature may be helpful in strengthening our connections as humans to nature, so people continue to have strong urges to reconnect with nature.”

My link: Biophilia and Mental Health

I’ve always loved nature since a child. My parents used to take me to the countryside and my grandparents often took me to the beach and so whilst growing up in the city; the countryside has never been too far. When experiencing poor mental health, I feel the urge to reconnect with nature; find myself in the same child like state I once was.

How I reconnect with nature

The beauty of nature is in the simplicity.

It is simply beautiful; no matter the landscape. Whether it be you’re walking through the local football fields (or should I say bog), trainers absolutely soaked, all whilst attempting to keep your trainers on your feet as they get sucked into the mud or a walk in the nearest country park with the 12 noon sunshine hitting your face,  it’s hard not to just take a moment and be thankful and allow your body to reset.

You’ll often find me stopping mid walk to quite literally breathe; taking in as big a breath as I can.

According to rewildingbritain, 90% of people’s time is spent indoors (in modern industrial societies) and so my recommendation, especially for anyone experiencing poor mental health is to reconnect with nature.

Ways to reconnect with nature

In order to reconnect with nature, you ideally need to first get outdoors.

  1. Coping Techniques:

Acknowledge 5 things you see. It may be the birds, the grass, the trees or a dog.

Acknowledge 4 things you can touch. It may be a plant, water or sand.

Acknowledge 3 things you hear. The birds, the wind, children laughing.

Acknowledge 2 things you can smell. Fresh cut grass or plants.

Acknowledge 1 thing you can taste. Take a treat with you for the sweetness or a piece of fruit for the goodness.

  1. Watch the sun rise or sun set:

By waking up early enough to see the sunrise you will be starting the day of with peace and tranquillity and allows you to start and end the day with positivity.

  1. Bring nature into your garden more:

It can be as simple as making/ buying a birdhouse to add to the garden, placing a feeder in the garden or planting wildflowers to help the bees.

  1. Grow your own fruit or veg:

Biophilic design is a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature. A DIY approach may be to bring plants indoors and grow a window ledge herb garden to bring nature indoors.

Being at one with nature helps me to control my anxiety and low mood levels and whilst I feel that a large majority of people do recognise and appreciate the value of nature, at the same time it is often overlooked. You might well say, how can something so simplistic provide so many benefits to arguably a complex mind?  I urge you to reconnect with nature. Whether it be once a week spending time in the garden, opening your windows and staring out into the garden, planting flowers and herbs or going for a walk in your local park; there are so many positive outcomes when reconnecting with nature. The biophilia hypothesis suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life – I would say that this hypothesis is valid.

Biophilia is my antidote to anxiety; could it be yours?

The views expressed by the contributor are not necessarily those of Anxiety UK, nor can we guarantee the accuracy of the information provided. If you would like to write a blog for AUK please email [email protected]  for more information

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