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This week, 10th – 16th May 2021, is Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK. A time to reflect. To check in on ourselves, our own wellbeing and that of those around us. The theme for this year’s mental health awareness week is nature.
Throughout the last 12 months, especially during the periods of lockdown, escaping into nature has proved invaluable to people up and down the country. 45% of people reported that spending time in green spaces was vital for their mental health. Even interest in nature television programmes and websites showing photos and videos of nature flew through the roof, demonstrating our innate pull towards the natural world.
Scientific research has shown time and time again that Nature is vital to our psychological and emotional health. It is only in recent generations that people have become more and more disconnected from the world around us. Now, we think, it is time to get active and get back outside!
The mental health benefits of an active lifestyle are also well documented.
Here at Sports Tours International we’re passionate about getting out and getting active. we asked the team this week about their go to Nature Escapes and what it means to them to get out and active in the great outdoors.
I feel privileged to be able to live near a beach in Formby, Liverpool, and this is the place I go to when I need to clear my head and get outside in the open air. Near to the beach is also a red squirrel reserve where I often take my two young children out for walks at the weekend.
As a busy working mum of two, it can be sometimes difficult to ensure that I am getting enough exercise, but it is something I prioritise. Whether that’s training with a PT once a week, doing a HIIT workout first thing in the morning (before my family are awake and the madness starts!), or getting out to get my steps in. Sometimes I go to the beach, just to watch and listen to the sea, it can be immediately calming and allows me some much needed time to myself.
For me personally, I get a massive buzz having the opportunity to cycle to work. My journey begins in Lostock, Bolton. I cycle alongside the River Croal, and on most mornings it’s just me. I love the witnessing the changing seasons. It’s great to see nature, deer, swans, squirrels, ducks and a crane, that I’ve named Colin.
My journey ends on the Roe Green Loopline, a former railway line, now shared pathway, that passes our offices in Walkden. Every working day I cycle 8.5 miles each way, and feel very fortunate that the vast majority of those miles are off road.Cycling allows me to both prepare for the day ahead and unwind after a day in the office. I wouldn’t change it for the world!
My favourite nature spot is the forest next to our house. Especially early in the morning. It’s a great place to start the day with the sunrise, so full of colours. I also train a lot in the forest for running events, in the calm, and with the sound of birds.I love my country as the nature and landscapes vary so much from region to region.
As the French lockdown is now finished, I also enjoyed a weekend in the French Riviera with great running sessions with sea view. I am registered this year for the Cross du Mont Blanc trail event at the end of June in Chamonix, so the countryside near Cannes offers a great spot, filled with nature, to train for climbing.
For me, it’s all about our garden. It’s my haven. I often have a wander outside, pull up a few weeds, chat to the neighbours, or play with the boys and our new puppy. It really helps to clear the mind, burn a few calories when digging/mowing etc, and all of the work I do in the garden ultimately add’s value of the property when we come to sell it. I love the sense of achievement and being able to see all the progress I’ve made.
During the pandemic, we spent many hours outside – I even watch Gardeners World on Friday nights, BBC 2!
I spend as much time as possible out in nature. Living where I do, close to Saddleworth Moor, makes it easy for me to get out and get away from it all.
Time up in the hills, wild places or the ocean are massively important for me to relax and unwind. For me It’s the feeling on insignificance and as such the calmness that brings…
I personally love getting out and about in the countryside for walks. More recently I have secured a small allotment which is now my go to ‘escape’ place. The time myself and my wife spend outdoors and down on the allotment is great for taking time out away from the hustle and bustle of work and full-on family life. We can relax and forget our day to day stresses. The hard work on the allotment is also great for keeping us physically fit.
To me, being in nature is about taking time for myself, which, this year, has been very much needed. Whether I’m climbing a mountain or running around a lake, I enjoy the time to breathe and take in the different views whilst challenging myself and keeping active.
Living in Lancashire, I’m blessed with lots of scenic routes on my doorstep. My favourite spot to connect with nature is walking the back route heading towards Clowbridge Reservoir and looking down at the valley over Goodshaw and Crawshawbooth. If I time it right, I can watch the sun as it goes down over the valley. It’s a great view. It’s somewhere that just makes me feel happier no matter what my mood is.
Most weekends, I try to get out on a walk or hike with the family. It’s amazing how much there is to see, do, and explore even on our own doorstep. Walking has been great for keeping us active and giving us some much-needed family relaxation time throughout the last 12 months!
I’m really lucky, where I live, to have a network of trails (former rail lines), woodland, and canal paths on my doorstep. Each morning I really look forward to my walk up to work through the woods. It gives me the time and headspace I need to prepare for each day. However, the one thing I’ve always said is that Manchester really lacks is a coastline. My favourite place to escape into nature is the Cornish coast. The pace of life is so different down there, and being close to the ocean, watching the waves as they crash against the harbour wall at Porthleven, or seeing the light dancing on the water, as the sun sets over Botallack; this is when I feel most at peace.
As a keen runner and cyclist, i love the freedom of being outdoors in nature. Having grown up in the city, I never truly appreciated nature when I was younger. This past year has made me appreciate all the wonderful scenery around me, and the fact that I don’t have to fly overseas to be able to appreciate incredible views. A year without events has also left me longing for the buzz of the crowd and racing. Getting back out, locally, at the Tatton Park 10k was brilliant!
We live in a very changing and demanding world these days where your relaxation “me time” is at a premium. It wasn’t until I recognised that I was suffering from anxiety and depression a number of years ago that I came to terms with how important this precious time is to enable me to RESET, CLEAR THE HAZE, RECOVER and PUT INTO PERSPECTIVE the challenges of life that I use to allow to get on top of me.
I live a 2 minute walk away from a canal waterway, with canal paths that meander through the local neighbourhood and network of motorways, bordered on both sides by wide open fields. I had never appreciated how lucky I was to have this on my doorstep. However, now I walk or jog along its winding pathways, listening to the wildlife noises, spotting nature at work through all the seasons, and observing the slow progress of the barges progressing downstream.
This is where I can come to relax, to have personal space and personal thinking time. My personal well being has been greatly improved by appreciating nature and the green environment
Later this year, the Running Bee Foundation, the Sports Tour International supported charity, who through their events champion health and wellbeing initiatives, promote the benefits of an active lifestyle, and are continuing in the fight to reduce childhood obesity, are hosting their first ever Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge.
This 24-mile hike, over 3 of the countries best known mountain peaks, is the perfect challenge for individuals, or for teams looking for a fun and active team building day out after a challenging year. Several members of the Sports Tours International Team will be taking part on the day. What better way is there to reconnect with nature this spring?
For more information, please see the Official Event Page…
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