The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week (18th - 24th May 2020) is kindness. We don't have to look far to find kindness in our community, especially at the moment. The Coronavirus outbreak is bringing out the best in people, to help each other through these uncertain and unsettling times.
Making time to step outside and connect to nature is essential for our wellbeing. In an increasingly digital and disconnected world, taking a break from our screens is the breath of fresh air we need. In my own mental health journey, navigating anxiety and depression, a walk through the woods is one of the greatest acts of kindness I can give myself.
Stepping into the shade of the trees almost transcends time, the beginning of a journey where endless possibilities stretch out in all directions. I tread the same path as so many others have and many more will. All of us making our own way, separately but together, part of something bigger.
I notice. The wallpaper pattern of the rowan tree. The sun turning leaves different shades of green. The shadows and the light shining through them. The twists and turns of trunks and branches, the obstacles they grew around long since disappeared. The mushrooms emerging from stumps, the growth alongside the decay. The intricate network of the wood wide web and the life it sustains, within its boundaries and beyond them.
A twenty minute route stretches out to an hour. I amble. I stop. I look up. I reach out. I breathe in the scent of the earth and the sound of the birdsong. A twig makes a satisfying crunch underfoot. Squirrels and blackbirds scurry and skid through the dried leaves. A robin dips onto a fence before taking off again.
I move through the calm one step, one moment at a time. Expectations and their resentments find their place of irrelevance. The centuries of history here puts my drama into perspective - a scene or even a solitary line. The chaos in my mind quiets and the tension melts, teeth unclench. Finding the space to pause, to think, to not think, to be.