Blog / The Unboxed #daily-outside-photo. Mental Health Awareness Week May 2021

May 14, 2021

A dose of nature, Beckenham Place Park

A dose of nature, Beckenham Place Park

Walking the dog daily throughout the pandemic and remote working has been a life saver. I have consciously made an effort to stop, stand and listen to the woodpecker, parakeets, cuckoo and even an owl during walks in my local green spaces and woods of southeast London. Sounds cheesy, but for me it definitely brings a momentary sense of calm and joy

A snowman and a llama

Sydenham Wells Park. Martyn

Sydenham Wells Park. Martyn

#Mental Health Awareness Week this year has the theme of Nature - a particularly apt choice I think considering we have all been so confined or at least very restricted over the last year. With so much time being spent indoors and so very much more time on screens and video calls, it’s been even more critical to get time outside.

Mudchute City Farm, Isle of Dogs. Sarah

Mudchute City Farm, Isle of Dogs. Sarah

According to the The Mental Health Foundation going for walks was one of the top coping strategies during the pandemic and 45% of us have reported that being in green spaces has been vital for our mental health. So we thought we would share some of our Unboxeders fantastic outside photos which we have internally enjoyed throughout the pandemic.

A pheasant in Coventry

A pheasant in Coventry. Andrew

A pheasant in Coventry. Andrew

We know that spending some time in nature or a green space has positive effects on our physical and mental wellbeing. But research shows that it isn’t just being in nature that makes such a difference for us, it’s noticing it that has a greater impact. “Connectedness” to nature and being mindful of the green space you are in, the tree you can see from your window, or the sounds of the outside, provides the most benefit. Feeling even a momentary connection makes us feel better, whether we are in a London park, by the sea or enjoying a wildlife documentary. Nature connectedness generates a number of positive emotions and is associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression. It also contributes to our physical wellbeing not only through the benefits of exercise but even just being in a natural environment or looking at pictures of it, can reduce blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension and reduce stress hormones in the body.

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Regents Canal near Angel, London. Tom

One of the messages from the research is focussing on how people can “tune in and connect with everyday nature which is close to home”. Some of us have easier access to natural spaces than others. But for those of us in urban areas, getting close to the natural environment can be more challenging, although we are lucky in London to have so many green spaces, no matter how small. Even if you can’t be in it, then reading about nature or watching nature programmes can have a similar positive impact on our wellbeing.

Finsbury Park, London. Lawrence

Finsbury Park, London. Lawrence

The Unboxed #daily-outside-photo

Over the last year of remote working, at Tom’s brilliant suggestion, we created a Slack channel for posting a #daily-outside-photo in which people have shared a photo of being outside during a lunch break or early morning/evening walk. It has been, and remains a lovely record of the now precious time outside Unboxeders have had and shared.

Clapham Common. Matt.

Clapham Common. Matt

Looking back through the photos it’s not only an amazing reminder of all the green spaces we have, the animals we love and wouldn’t expect to see! But a fascinating record of a pandemic time. Being spread around the capital and further afield in the UK as we are, and physically out of touch, it has been a joyful daily snapshot, not only of Unboxeders areas but the things they notice; particularly from those we haven’t yet physically met who have joined us over the last year.

Some sheep and paddle board

Mudchute Farm. Sarah

Mudchute Farm. Sarah

If you live in an urban environment, as many of us do, there are ways to engage with the natural world around us without having to head to the hills (although that would be nice too!)

Torquay. Rhian

Torquay. Rhian

There are plenty of community gardens, parks, woodlands, even courtyards, where you can spend time and engage with the natural world. If you are out early morning or early evening there is usually a fox to pass by, bird song to listen to, or clouds to watch. All of which, if you take the moment, will help to bring a sense of calm and boost your general sense of wellbeing. And if you can’t get out in it then bringing the outside in, with houseplants or herbs grown indoors in window sills can make a real difference.

A central London courtyard. Celia

A central London courtyard. Celia

#ConnectWithNature encourages us this year to share, experience and talk about our experiences with the natural world and how they make us feel. So we thought we would share some of our experiences, not only for Mental Health Awareness Week but for every week of the year.

Kassie, Mpumalanga, SA

Mpumalanga, SA. Kassie