Nature vs Lockdown blues

How nature is an aid for mental heath and physical wellness

Trying to stay positive throughout lockdown is romantic, not realistic. Finding motivation can seem like a task, but when you do, it works wonders. Here is how taking a walk in the park or the countryside can shake off the isolation blues.

In London, we are very fortunate to have green spaces. In a busy environment where people are always on the move, it allows you to block all the white noise out for a while. Staying indoors for extended periods may feel like time is standing still, and always staring at screens can drain you out. 

We spoke to an expert and London-based psychologist, Anna Lindon, about the benefits of surrounding yourself with nature during the lockdown. Anna explains that there are two facets attaching nature to mental health. The first one is about how you feel when you change your environment.

‘’When you change your environment from the city into nature, it feels fairly hypnotic; this is called the daydreaming effect.”

This effect allows you to automatically feel relaxed when looking at trees or listening to birdsongs, or any such activity. 

Another benefit of being in nature Anna talks about is the increased number of ‘neurotransmitters of serotonin and dopamine in the left frontal lobe of the brain’.

‘’According to neuroscience, we can change our behaviour by introducing new information and by decreasing the state of emergency in our body’’ says Anna.

Nature automatically helps reduce anxiety and blood pressure. This is why research says that people who live in the countryside are proven to be much less stressed than those in the city. They sleep and rest more because their bodies are more relaxed. However, living in the city does not mean it’s doomsday for your mental health.

Anna suggests creating a routine, and using nature effectively can boost serotonin levels that make you happier. This can be explained through Freud’s pain and pleasure principle, which is that we all know that we intrinsically deserve pleasure. As a result, going out into nature and seeing the beauty, such as the warm colours of autumn, remind us that there is still goodness left in this challenging time.

However, it is hard to apply these concepts in our daily struggles or studying, working from home, and trying not to get into a complacent lazy slump. We also interviewed Aalya Magsi, a young entrepreneur in the vegan industry and the founder of ‘Peakz’ vegan confectionary company that supplies snacks to many stores nationwide and internationally.

We asked her the simple question, “Having such a busy schedule, do you surround yourself with nature and what does it mean to you?” She explained that she implemented walking in nature before lockdown even started, both for her physical and mental health. She said she used to walk home every day from work to clear her mind.

“It is important sometimes to leave whatever you are doing behind and spend time with yourself to clear your mind.” 

Aalya also explained that in lockdown, the importance of walking and running is almost essential. The change of scenery refreshes your mind, and you physically don’t feel as tired and lethargic. 

It is proven that emotionally, physically and scientifically, nothing wrong can come from taking a walk. In the UK, we are fortunate enough to have the time to exercise, even in such challenging times. We must take small steps every day to look after our mental and physical health and ride the lockdown wave together. 

Words: Akanksha Goel | Subbing: Sara Varga

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