Connecting with Nature

May 11th, 2021 - Joshua Dickerson

Following a year in which lunchtime walks outside, sitting in green spaces and watching wildlife webcams have been vital for our mental wellbeing, the theme of ‘connecting with nature’ for this year's Mental Health Awareness Week couldn’t be more appropriate.

Connecting with the natural environment can come in many forms and even small contacts with nature have been proven to reduce feelings of social isolation, be effective in protecting our mental health, and preventing distress.

Why I connect with nature

For me personally, I find nature is a place to escape, an opportunity to truly think, but most importantly over recent months, it has helped me through my journey of grief.

With just over two years since my mum, Amanda Dickerson, took her own life following several years suffering from mental illness, being outside has played an essential part in protecting my mental health.

Whilst the last years of her life and the time since her passing have been incredibly difficult for our family, I want to use this time to remember the real Amanda. The one with such a great sense of humour and fun. The one who loved to bring so much energy to coaching athletics and watching any type of sport. And the one whose family meant the world to her.

Therefore I am proud to be supporting Mind, the mental health charity, helping others so that they do not have to go through the same as our family.

In preparing these words, I found myself reflecting on just how much my mum immersed herself in the outdoors at any possible opportunity, but also how she found beauty from connecting with nature through a variety of ways.

Connecting with nature: Art

Not every part of connecting with nature needs to be going outside for a walk. Spending time watching, painting or drawing elements of the outside environment are renowned for being equally powerful in helping our mental wellbeing.

With a background in art and writing, my mum could depict nature beautifully. She was incredibly artistic, happily taking four days drawing a single flower petal of a flower!

Connecting with nature: Gardening

Like so many others, her true sanctuary was in the garden.

She could often be found hidden in a flower bed, spending an entire day preparing the soil for planting and even completed a City and Guilds in Garden Design.

She had such an amazing eye for detail, so her garden was as beautiful as her art work.

Connecting with nature: Walking

The most obvious way to connect with nature is likely to be surrounded by it.

For my mum, she loved taking a leisurely stroll bird watching, exploring the mountains as a family, or having a picnic on the beach.

Being outside always seemed to be the place she was happiest, something that clearly runs in the genes!

What about you?

These are obviously just a few of the ways in which you could mirror my mum’s passion for the outside world. But I would encourage you to experience the environment in your own way. I would also be delighted to hear just how you are going to connect with nature.

Of course, nature isn’t just there to be enjoyed for only this week. For me in fact, over the next few months I will be looking for lots of new places to enjoy the outside world as I train for my latest challenge in October; attempting to run two marathons, on two continents, in two weeks!

If you want to read more about my story and to find out what I’ll be up to then please go to:

Thank you. 💙