Slow down and look up!
This is Mental Health Awareness Week which this year has the theme of nature. The Mental Health Foundation suggests that we should all take some time try to experience, share and talk about nature.
In Japan there is a tradition known as shinrin-yoku or forest bathing. People go into a forest and connect with everything around them through all of their senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. By consciously opening their senses they try to close the gap between themselves and the natural world.
A recent report by the National Trust and the University of Derby found that the simple act of being in and noticing nature can reap enormous benefits. However, they reported that for many people nature is not an integral part of their life. From their study it was found that only 19% of children regularly notice the wildlife around them. In the past year 57% of adults have rarely or never watched the sunrise. Only 27% frequently watched clouds.
So, this week we have been trying to do just that. The children have been encouraged to slow down and look at the nature around us. Even in the centre of a city, as we are, we are fortunate to have Cathedral Green, the Deanery Garden and of course the beautiful Hall House garden to enjoy. The children have been encouraged to look closely at the plants and flowers, stand and stare up into the trees and listen to the birds. In Prep-Prep our Frogs have even started their day with some cloud watching. They stretched out in the garden and looked for shapes and pictures in the clouds. They saw scorpions, hearts, crocodiles and even a watering can!
One of the key messages of this research is that it doesn’t matter what you do in nature, it doesn’t need to be anything particularly taxing or adventurous. The benefit comes simply from being in and noticing nature. So, this weekend give yourself a dose of nature and on a moor, a beach, in a park or a garden listen to the birdsong, smell the flowers or even copy our Frogs, spread a blanket on the ground and watch the clouds.
Mrs Sarah Reddington
Deputy Head (Pupils)