This May, Dorset Mind is encouraging people to connect with nature as part of the proven Five Ways to Wellbeing
Spending time in nature can be beneficial for supporting your wellbeing. It can help improve your mood, reducing anger or stress, and taking part in activities outside, such as gardening, allows your mind to focus and relax.
In addition, gentle exercise can help support your physical health – reducing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic medical conditions.
Community allotments are spaces which enable users to connect with others, helping reduce isolation. Feedback from Dorset Mind’s ‘Eco in Mind’ support programme, delivered at several sites across the county, shows the amazing impact of gardening and ecotherapy in providing support for participants:
‘I am really struggling to leave the house at the moment but when I get to sessions they really help, and I feel it is a safe place to come’ – February 2023
‘I was in tears before attending and left feeling happy. Focusing on nature-based art has helped lift my mood’ – November 2022
‘Since attending sessions, I feel a greater sense of being able to cope with my week. After the sessions, I feel uplifted and grounded. I’m learning and it is really helping me each week’ –March 2022
Dorset Mind is expanding its ‘Eco in Mind’ ecotherapy programme to reach even more people who need their mental health support. Local allotments will host charity groups to support Dorset residents.
People are encouraged to self-refer, but can also be referred by a health professional.
On Mondays, Dorchester continues to host sessions for young people from a local secondary school, with a mixed adult group later in the morning.
On a Thursday, Dorchester sessions include a mixed adults art and plant session and a session supporting more young people. There is a new third session for paramedics, NHS, and blue lights staff.
‘Eco in Mind’ is offering a new session in Shillingstone, at the Yellow Bus Project, supporting adults with their mental wellbeing by growing fruit and vegetables to give to the local food bank. These sessions will run on a Friday morning.
Dorset Mind has announced new sites in Shaftesbury to support patients at a local medical centre, in conjunction with Blackmore Vale Partnership and Shaftesbury in Bloom, with sessions to also run on Fridays.
If you don’t have access to a garden or allotment space, you can still enjoy the season’s produce. Baking and cooking are also mindful activities that support your wellbeing.
Rhubarb is still going strong – why not bake a heart-warming crumble? You could also connect with nature simply by going to a local Pick Your Own farm.
We are lucky in Dorset to have easy access to enjoy such a rich variety of environments, from our thickly-hedged farmland to our ancient woodland, the precious chalk downlands and of course the beaches in south Dorset.