Mental Health Awareness Week follows the theme ‘Nature’ (10-17th May). This year I am talking with my students about how playing in nature helps us breathe more deeply, connect more easily and freely, learn about change and unpredictability and encounter the microbes that help build our immunity. Finally, being with other species, plants and animals, helps us regulate both excitement and fear.
Watching a robin devour a centipede fills us with a range of emotions within a moment, enabling our bodies to manage a spike in our nervous system as our emotions change rapidly. Watching the breeze move the blossom is mindful and triggers production of telomerese which protects our chromosomes from deterioration. Child trauma can accelerate the aging of chromosomes and associated with major long term health problems. Research found that telomeres are shortened by the impact of childhood trauma. Exercise and mindful connection with nature can help protect our children against this premature aging of the chromosomes.
This report released by The National Trust about our relationship with nature is fascinating and provides lots of creative ways we can be more wild and well!
No time to get outdoors? Just search ‘nature landscapes’ in You Tube and relax! Being aware of our nervous system and knowing how to regulate it is probably the single most important thing we can do to help ourselves to function well. A recent study ‘provides evidence that autonomic control of the heart is altered by the simple act of just viewing natural scenes with an increase in vagal activity’ (Gladwell VF, Brown DK, Barton JL, Tarvainen MP, Kuoppa P, Pretty J, Suddaby JM, Sandercock GR. The effects of views of nature on autonomic control. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Sep;112(9):3379-86. doi: 10.1007/s00421-012-2318-8. Epub 2012 Jan 21. PMID: 22270487.)
Learn more about the benefits of nature in this Early Years Mental Health training or learn more about the role of the nervous system in supporting secondary attachments in our settings at the forthcoming Early Years Mental Health conference on 10 June 2021, sign up with the new booking system Education Essex.