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Wellbeing and nature

Nature is all around us, from house plants, parks and gardens, to mountains, forests and oceans. Whether you live in the countryside, or in the city, nature is everywhere.

Many of us live fast-paced lives, where we work long days and often don’t find the time to truly appreciate the nature around us. Spending time out in green spaces has been shown to have a big benefit for both your mental and physical health.

What are the benefits of nature on mental health?

Evidence shows that it can help with mental health difficulties like anxiety and depression, and has been shown to:

  • Improve your mood
  • Reduce feelings of stress
  • Improve your concentration
  • Improve your confidence and self-esteem
  • Improve your physical health, and help you to be active

The benefits of being outside in nature are still being understood, but are thought to be related to our senses connecting us to the world around us, as well as providing the opportunity for us to connect with others in an outdoor setting. You don’t have to be outside for long to reap the rewards either, with research showing being outside for as little as five minutes can still have great benefits for your wellbeing!

Being outside in natural light can also help if you experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that affects people during particular seasons and times of year. You can read more about SAD on our blog here.

5 ways to wellbeing in nature

Here are some ideas to try around the 5 ways to wellbeing in nature:


  • Join a walking group (Take a look at Paths for All or, Ramblers)
  • Join an outdoors sports team, like football or golf, or join an exercise club 
  • Grow food with others – you could apply to share an allotment, or look for community gardens or food growing projects in your local area. (Take a look at the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society)

Take notice

  • Arrange a comfortable space to sit, like by a window where you can look outdoors 
  • If you live in a city, it might feel harder to find green spaces. If you are present in your surroundings, you might notice nature popping up in the least likely of places.
  • Try listening to natural sounds, like through recordings or apps that play the sounds of the ocean or the rain falling
  • When you’re out in nature, use your senses to taste, hear, feel, smell and see everything that is around you. Whether it’s tasting wild blackberries, hearing the sound of birds, feeling the textures of leaves or trees, stopping to smell flowers, or seeing what wildlife you can spot.


  • Give back to the environment by recycling or going on a litter picking walk
  • Be a Health in Mind hero and take on an outdoors fundraising challenge. For inspiration, visit our Fundraising page here.
  • Plant seeds or flowers to help bees
  • Hang a birdfeeder outside your window
  • Try pet-sitting or dog walking for your friend or at your local animal shelter

Keep learning

  • Learn to find edible plants. You could see if a foraging group meets up in your local area, or learn some foraging recipes (Try the Woodland Trust website)
  • Learn to paint, draw, or take photographs, using nature as your inspiration
  • Learn gardening, including how to plant or grow your own vegetables

Keep active

  • Go for a walk in a green space, such as a local park, woodland trail, or stroll along a nearby beach (Visit Forestry Commission Scotland for local forests, or your local council website for green spaces)
  • Try moving your exercise outdoors if you can. You could go for a run through a local park, go on a bike ride, or even go wild swimming. Read about Shirley’s experience of the benefits of being in nature on her wellbeing here.

‘It is therapeutic for me to still get fresh air and exercise outdoors even though it is dark and there has been the added bonus sometimes of experiencing big open starry skies and a calming stillness’

Overcoming obstacles to being in nature

Often, when we’re experiencing mental health difficulties, it can be hard to connect with nature. We might feel tired easily or have difficulties doing physical activity. We might also feel low or unmotivated, making it hard to get outdoors.

Here are some tips to help you overcome some obstacles you might be facing:

  • Ask for support. If you feel worried about going into new places or social situations, you could always ask someone to go with you. You could also take a look at our befriending opportunities in your local area, here
  • Find things that you enjoy. Spending time outside doesn’t mean you have to go on a strenuous run or hike, you might just like to sit in your local park, or go for a walk around the corner
  • Don’t try to do things all at once. You could start with some small steps like going on a short walk around the corner, or bringing nature indoors if being outside doesn’t feel possible right now. Even small amounts of time can help improve your wellbeing
  • Go easy on yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’ve tried something and it doesn’t work for you. Living with a mental health difficulty can be hard and some days will be easier than others.

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