Beat those Winter Blues – Get Outside!

by Sarah Dobson Health & wellbeing Nature Research Author - Jo Wren

At this time of year many of us struggle with ‘winter blues’ – the lack of sunlight and the short days all contribute to our general feeling of tiredness and sloth-like tendencies.For some this is a minor blip, but for others it can be far more serious.

There is more and more evidence that being outside and connecting with the green and the blue has a beneficial effect on our mental health. For everything from lifting mood, relieving stress, increasing energy levels, reducing depression and improving cognitive functions – nature can be a powerful healer. Numerous studies have concluded as much, including in our area an evaluation by the University of Brighton on the work of local wellbeing charity Grow.

The advice of Grow would always be to get outdoors as much as you can! Grow has been sharing this advice with people who struggle with mental health issues in Brighton & Hove and beyond for 8 years now.

Grow runs 8 week courses in partnership with the National Trust at Saddlescombe Farm, just north of Brighton, to help people improve and manage their wellbeing on an ongoing basis using nature as the remedy.

People come together and connect with each other and with the outdoors, through a range of activities such as: walking, conservation work, shepherding, wild art, foraging, mindfulness and meditation.The effects can be transformational – life-changing and in some cases even life-saving!

One example of someone who has benefitted from Grow is Emma, who felt disconnected from the natural world and, following a period of ill health, was recommended by her doctor to take part in the Grow Project. She attributes the experience as being instrumental to her recovery, by helping her to discover herself once more and becoming stronger and more confident.

Grow’s next 8 week group will be starting at the end of February – get more info from the website www.growingwellbeing.org.uk . Grow also runs ‘Wellbeing through Nature’ courses for the Brighton & Hove Recovery College, and facilitates one off ‘Natural Retreat’ days for groups and organisations – a great way to get out of the office and connect with the outdoors!

We are blessed locally with a wealth of different projects and organisations with the common aim of connecting with nature, the land and the outdoors, whether with an explicit aim of improving wellbeing or with that as a fortuitous bi-product! Grow is a part of the Green Wellbeing Alliance, a loose formation of projects carrying out similar work around Brighton & Hove.

Jo Wren
Director & Course leader, The Grow Project
www.GrowingWellbeing.org.uk www.facebook.com/Growingwellbeing Twitter @GrowWellbeing

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