BRINGING WOODLANDS TO LIFE

Stress Awareness Month

1 Apr 2022


A brown tree trunk with five green leaves coming off it. Text in the leaves reads (l-r) 'Connect', 'Be Active', 'Give', 'Take Notice' and 'Keep Learning'

April is Stress Awareness Month, and to celebrate, we’re taking the opportunity to explore the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, and looking at how woodlands can help you improve your own wellbeing. Each week we'll be uploading our thoughts on a different one of the 5 ways, so check back here each Friday in April to see how engaging with woodlands and nature can help you on your wellbeing journey.

Week 1: Connect

First we’re looking at how woodlands can help us to connect with others, and green social prescribing is the perfect example of this! Coed Lleol – Small Woods Wales works with health and social care practitioners and organisations to provide free outdoor activities for people with mental or physical health issues or people who are feeling socially isolated. Across Wales, we run varied group sessions, from weekly walking groups to woodland activities, which help people connect with nature and connect with each other.

To find out more about our groups and how they help people, take a look at our video below about one of our groups in Pontardawe, which shows how our work has helped people connect, regain their confidence and improve their wellbeing.

If you’d like to get involved in Coed Lleol – Small Woods Wales’s in-person sessions, take a look at our events calendar or get in touch with your local project officer.

 

Week 2: Be Active 

The second of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing that we’re exploring this April is 'Be Active'.

A phrase we use a lot at Small Woods is ‘Health by Stealth’, which refers to the physical exercise you may not even realise that you’re doing when you’re spending time outdoors. Whether you’re coppicing, foraging or just going for a walk, spending time in nature is a great way to get some exercise without spending hours in the gym.

However, if you do want to take a more proactive approach to working out, you can still do this outside!  Our YouTube channel has several exercise videos showing you how to make the outdoors your gym – view the full playlist here, and see below for the first video in the series, Outdoor Yoga.

You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to stay active – it’s about finding what’s right for you, whether that be a gentle walk in the woods, or something a bit more intense.

 

Week 3: Give

The theme of week three of Stress Awareness Month is 'Give'.

When we hear ‘giving’, we often think about giving money or giving gifts. But giving doesn’t have to be material, it’s just about having a spirit of sharing and generosity towards others and towards your environment.

Giving time

One of the most valuable things you can give is your time – whether simply making time for friends and family, or giving time in a more structured way, such as volunteering. Here at Small Woods, we have some amazing volunteers who help with all of our projects, from woodland management and conservation to social forestry and wellbeing, and we’re so grateful for the support of each and every one of them. If you’re interested in getting involved with volunteering, check out the links below for information and contact details.

Giving back to nature

Nature gives us so much, so it can be nice to give back a little bit. If you have a garden or woodland, you can manage it to create habitats for all kinds of wildlife, from the tiniest spider to native birds and mammals. Our website has a page with information on ways to manage woodlands for wildlife as well as links to useful resources, so why not take a peek

Donating

Of course, if you would like to give in a more material sense, we are a registered charity, and we’re always very grateful for your donations, big or small, which enable us to support woodland owners and undertake our social forestry work. If you’d like to donate, visit this page for more details.

 

Week 4: Keep Learning

The fourth ‘Way to Wellbeing’ we’re exploring for Stress Awareness Month is ‘Keep Learning’.

According to the mental health charity, Mind, there are lots of reasons why learning is good for our mental health; it can increase our self-esteem, give us a sense of purpose and give us new ways to express ourselves, and it has been shown that people who carry on learning in adulthood have a greater capacity for coping with stress.

Learning is at the very core of what we do here at Small Woods, and we’re always striving to share and impart knowledge about woodland management, nature, health and wellbeing. We run regular online and in-person courses on topics from herbal medicine to whittling, so check out our course listings to get involved!

If you can’t make it to one of our courses, our YouTube channel is another brilliant resource for learning with videos on a huge variety of topics, from woodland crafts to facts about fungus. Many of these videos can be found on our Digital Nature Resources page, and for more, you can visit our YouTube channel. See below for a sneak peak at the fantastic content we have in store!

Video from our YouTube channel entitled 'Everything about Earthworms!'

 

Week 5: Keep Learning

It’s the last few days of Stress Awareness Month, and this week we’re discussing how you can take notice and connect with the world around you. 

Activity: engaging your senses in nature

A nice way to take notice is to connect with your surroundings using all of your senses. For this activity, it’s nice to head to a woodland or green space, but it can just as easily be done in the comfort of your own home! All you need to do is to search around you and find…

  • 5 things that you can see
  • 4 things that you can hear
  • 3 things that you can touch or feel
  • 2 things that you can smell
  • 1 thing that you can taste*

*be careful tasting things, and only eat something if you’re sure what it is! Have a look at some of our foraging videos for some examples of safe and tasty things to find in nature!

 
Another way to take notice of both your environment and what’s going on inside you is to use mindfulness.  The word mindfulness brings up different things for different people, and many aren’t quite sure how to approach it, but at its core, mindfulness is just about being present in the moment. Our YouTube channel has a playlist of mindfulness videos, giving an introduction to a few different mindfulness and meditation techniques, one of which can be seen below:

'A Guided Mindfulness Session in a Welsh woodland in June': video from our YouTube channel

 

Thank you for reading and for following along with our #5waystowellbeing posts throughout Stress Awareness Month. We hope you've found some useful ways to destress and feel more grounded! 

 

 

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