Our blood pressure drops when we’re exposed to nature, and hormones are released by seeing beautiful landscapes. Nature’s benefits must be highlighted in schools and at Cop26, writes Michael Samuel
he period since the outbreak of Covid last March has been incredibly challenging for people’s saúde mental: loss, bereavement, furlough and isolation have been a corrosive cocktail. I have seen it through friends and acquaintances but also through my role as chair of the mental health charity, the Anna Freud Centre.
One thing that I have been struck by is how many people have said they have appreciated time in the open air. Partly spending time outdoors, especially in green spaces, offered a release from confinement indoors in lockdown, but was also an opportunity to connect with nature. During Mental Health Awareness Week it’s entirely appropriate that the theme is “Nature”. We have been reminded that the natural environment is good for our mental health.
When I spend time outdoors, I am moved by the beauty of the natural world. Walking in a London park, or hiking with friends in a rural area, is something I relish. When I have felt at a low ebb, nature has consoled and revived me. One of my children, a qualified psychotherapist, believes our relationship with the natural world is vital to our wellbeing and is a strong advocate for ecotherapy.