Mental Health Awareness – How nature helps me, by Lara Brittain

Connecting experiences in nature with mental health, how simple things make a positive impact.

Now that summer is approaching there is no excuse to start going outside more and enjoying the nature around you. Whether it’s exercising outside, going on a walk, or working outside in the garden, being in the sun always makes everything more enjoyable (It also helps you get your Vitamin D for the day!). One thing I particularly enjoy doing is cycling or traveling to new places close by and walking around. This is a good way to find hidden walking routes and mixes it up from the usual walks near where you live.

Image of a bike, close-up, sun shining behind.

Looking out for nature is also a fun way to engage with nature, making a list of what you see or ticking off when you see certain animals can really help you realise how much nature has to offer. I once saw some deer were on the Reading University Boat Club site one evening, so often nature is closer than you think.

Photo at night of deers on some grass.

Finding objects outside that begin with each letter of the alphabet can also be a good way to appreciate the things around you and give you something different to think about whilst you walk.

Trying new things, using the equipment around you can be a nice challenge. I was trying to learn how to flagpole and could then challenge my friends to do the same, using something as simple as a lamppost! Even visiting a park to try and learn a pull-up, or see how many you can do in a minute?

Image next to a river. Lara is pulling herself up on a lamppost.

The good thing about nature is that it is always there no matter what time of day. Similar to the University of Reading support services which are extremely helpful and will be there when you need them. Using the new Student Wellness Check online can also help identify what might be the best support for you if you are finding things a bit overwhelming at the moment, and it doesn’t take very long to do at all!

In the evenings when things can get a bit too much, going outside to watch the sunset can be a great way to unwind. This is a small step in the right direction into making tomorrow a better day; I find exploring places with the best view to take photos of the sunset can be extremely rewarding, especially when they turn out pretty.

Photo of Lara and her dog looking over a sunrise

Spots around the water are also a great to appreciate nature and especially in Reading we are never far away from one. From the lake on campus to the River Thames, these can be great places to bring picnics. If the weather is nice sometimes going in can also be a fun bonus. Last summer I even tried open water swimming at Caversham Lakes which I initially found scary but really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend. It is a great way to exercise and chill out, is so different to pool swimming and a great way to get into something new.

Image of Lara getting into a rive.

Spending most of my time rowing means I spend a lot of time outdoors which has really helped me de-stress from working and gives me a nice break from being indoors. I think being around nature really helps me be more positive especially when the sun comes out it’s hard not to be in a good mood! Everyone has times when life gets hard, trying new things and spending time outside can be two of the best ways to get through the hard times and appreciate the good things in life.

For further ideas and tips check out

Start enjoying the summer weather and lifted restrictions.

Good Luck to anyone still doing exams!


For more blogs like this check out the Student Life Blog.

Resources for Mental Health Awareness Week:

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