By Abi Webber

The warm weather, combined with all the wonderful sights of spring, makes May a fantastic time to get outside and with this week being Mental Health Awareness Week there is no better time to take yourself outside and enjoy nature.

The Mental Health Foundation estimates that at least 1 in 6 of us will have experienced one of the common mental health problems in the last week; that is a scary statistic.

Evidence in a Natural England report showed there is a positive relationship between exposure to natural environments and improvements in mental health; for this reason, connecting to nature, and taking some time out is more important than ever.

However, knowing what to do can be daunting, especially if you’re not able to leave your house or meet people.

Although there are many wonderful places in Hampshire you can explore, you do not need to go far to experience nature.

Try any of the following to connect with the outdoors:

1. Look up from your screen and out of the window - having a view of nature is a good start when it comes to feeling these benefits. Take a moment to notice the clouds moving overhead, the wind moving the trees or even count the daisies you can see.

2. Paint a nature scene on your wall or hang a photograph of nature to look at and enjoy - images of nature can offer many of the same benefits as experiencing nature first-hand.

3. Grow something (indoors or outdoors) - you do not need a garden to grow, planting up a simple pot with herbs or flowers that you can sit on your window sill works just as well. Tending to plants, even if you do not get your heart rate up with rigorous weeding or digging, is good for our health.

4. Stop and notice nature wherever you are - count the flowers you find as you walk or put your smartphone to good use and record what you see. Taking time to notice nature focusses your attention and boosts your mood.

5. Learn something new about nature - there is evidence to suggest that continued learning throughout our lifetimes helps with self-esteem and that setting challenging but achievable goals is associated with higher levels of wellbeing.