There is no denying that some days are made for the sofa. A feel-good film, a snack and a snuggle works wonders for the gloom, inside and out.
So when you're ready for a stretch, a glimpse outside the window and breath of fresh air, just look at what a walk in the woods can do for you and your child…
One of the hardest things to negotiate is our place in the world. Adult or child, we are constantly reassessing our relationships with friends and family and those around us.
But no matter what’s happening in our home, with our friends - we can KNOW we belong to the world around us! We come from the same stuff as the leaves and the frogs. No tree will judge us and no squirrel cares whether we match up to their ideals. We belong unconditionally: whatever we look like, however we feel, whatever we’re thinking.
The urge to scream and stamp is strong at times, isn’t it? Restrained by our belongings, by people and politeness, venting is tough indoors.
But the natural world is tough. Grass won’t scream if we stamp on it, stomping across a field in fury. Trees can take a whack from a stick when all we want to do is lash out (pick a big one!). Kicking up leaves and throwing stones in a river brings a fantastic release with little harm done when you pick your spot sensibly.
Whether you want to escape somewhere quiet, or a change of scenery for extra stimulation, the natural world won’t let down.
Find trickling water and birdsong for a relaxing, calming relief from the madness at home. Visit public gardens for a world of colours and smells. Explore wild places and the textures and sounds of crunching through a woodland. You can even explore taste if you’re brave enough to forage - but get a GOOD guidebook!
Some of us just HAVE to move. We’re not made for four walls, chairs and tables, so feel stifled and agitated when our body is restrained.
There is no limit to where you can take your body when you get outside. Hang and swing from branches, climb fallen logs, jump and crawl and roll down hills! Wear old clothes and shoes and let the world become 4D again!
Some of us are reassured by the familiar, and need grounding in what we find around us. We don’t like things out of place, or unpredictable.
Patterns are EVERYWHERE! Choose from reassuring symmetry, reliable stripes, gentle curves and waves or infinite spirals… Look for veins on leaves, geometrical shapes on bugs, circles on petals, and comforting groups of three and five (leaf shapes, bud clusters, petal patterns etc). If you’re feeling adventurous, check out the Fibonacci Sequence and sunflower seeds!
Sometimes it’s all just too much. We slam a door behind us, shove a pillow over our head and wonder how we’ll ever get through this day.
Throw everyone’s coat and shoes on, shove some snacks in a bag and head for your nearest green space.
The natural world is not quiet. Far from it. But it can be calm and soothing. If you can, sit and be still. Give a child permission to dig a hole or ferret in some undergrowth and you’ll get yourself at least 10 minutes. See what happens inside and out. Play a listening game and count how many sounds you can hear. Just let the waves of gentle natural noises wash over you.
Reaching beyond our comfort zone is a hard thing to do. Acknowledging a fear, accepting we have what it takes to overcome it, then having the courage to do so can be exhausting.
The beauty of being surrounded by the natural world is the invitations that come thick and fast. A log that shouts ‘look under me’ despite the icky bugs; a tree that begs to be climbed, despite the fear of heights; a bush that holds a nest, despite a fear of what’s going to fly out!
Instead of ‘Be careful!’ or ‘You’ll fall’, try out ‘How can you do that safely?’ or ‘You’ll be fine, just go slowly’... Exploring new things, outside and in builds huge amounts of resilience. Getting scratched and scuffed, surviving, and that awesome sense of achievement is the very heart of self-esteem. I CAN do it. Go me!
Expressing gratitude is well-documented to have a positive effect on our wellbeing. When we’re thankful, we’re acknowledging that something or someone has done something for us, taken care of us. We have been given a gift, and we are WORTH it.
Wandering through the woods or the park, remember that the trees give us the air we breathe and send them a ‘thank you’ with your next deep breath. It is plants that give us our breakfast and our furniture. Water from that stream, undoubtedly at some point in it’s millions of years cycling through our planet, has serviced us in some way - perhaps as a drink or a bath! The world around you provides, whether we dwell on it or not. Take a moment to consider that unconditional gift...
Likewise, reciprocation is key to our sense of self-worth. We tend to feel it only on birthdays and gift-giving festivals like Christmas or Eid. But how awesome is that smile we receive when we’ve done something for someone else? That feeling that we’ve contributed in some way to someone’s happiness or well-being?
The natural environment needs us too. We can give big or small, but every little helps! Whether your in the woods, a field, a park or your garden, you can give something back. Plant something, pick up litter, stack a few pieces of deadwood for the bugs… Then take a moment to appreciate your efforts and feel the natural space around you say thank you back…
We hope this gives you some ideas and insight into just a few of the ways that the natural world can be a wonder for you and your child!
If you’d like to explore more, take a look at some of the resources we’re posting this week for #mentalhealthweek2021 by following our Facebook page. You can also access a whole world of help and support with our low cost monthly membership