Nature supports mental health, but intrapersonal skills secure mental wellness

Nature supports mental health, but intrapersonal skills secure mental wellnessCampaign poster by The UK Mental Health Foundation
13.05.2021

How is your mental health? How has your mental health been during the lockdown? Let's look at it a bit closer. After all, it is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek in the UK and also #EuropeanMentalHealthWeek.

From a mental health perspective, many people and workplaces have experienced the last 14 months to be the most difficult period. The first lockdowns started more than a year ago and have skyrocketed mental health problems and have often left people without remote mental health support.

Most services in the mental health and mental wellness arena have not been designed for remote use. Wellness Orbit wellness website has been here one of the few exceptions. It has been built ground up as a digital solution that supports both mental wellbeing and productivity.

The internet is full of mental health tips and if those would do the trick, everyone would be fine. Obviously, statistics get worse, not better. So, our first problem is the lack of a systematic proactive mental wellness solution that enables us to establish the right mindset. The second problem is that people have a total lack of practical intrapersonal skills. Wellness Orbit addressed and solved both. However, our mental wellness e-trainings currently still reach relatively few workplaces as finding ways to spread the digital mental wellness revolution is the path untravelled. 

We are thankful that you are with us and have found this blog.

It is important to spread the message that all work-related mental health issues are preventable.

The mental health situation before the pandemic

When people started working from home, it appeared that while psychological safety in workplaces is important, it mostly does not support people when they are left to work from home alone. We simply have not trained independent professionals who understand their minds and lead processes within their minds with ease. The e-trainings and free information on this webpage will help employers to fill that mental wellness gap.

While every May we have some mental health campaigns, it does not do the trick. Across the UK, only 9% of employees have received mental health-focused training from their employer, according to Deloitte UK 2020 study. That is very little and the problem is that most of this training does not focus on prevention and proactive mental wellness measures. So, it is no wonder that people fail to spot the early warning signs and lack the basic skills to keep their minds well and brains fit.

The paradox with prevention has always been that we do not notice any loss until there is no apparent problem that disturbs us. But remember, we also noticed the loss of our personal and business freedom only after the restrictions of the pandemic hit us. And it hit us hard. The huge loss and pain from mental illness are obvious to everyone who has lost their mental well-being. But then it is far too late… 

Stop and make a difference now

It would be wise to investigate your current mental health costs as around 87% of employees experienced work-related stress before the lockdowns, according to a Cigna study, published back in 2019. In another study, Investors in People looked at stress figures by age group, and the result was that young people are most vulnerable to stress, the statistics are shown in the image below.
 

Investors in people – stress by age groups

 

In case you are not among the lucky 13-20% who do not experience stress, then you have an opportunity to watch this mental wellness video below. We shot it for you and for your team in various locations that include beautiful natural landscapes. And in case you already face any mental health problems, this video is your opportunity to find out how to train your mind so that you could start improving your mental fitness.

 


We are sure if people only knew that all work-related mental health problems are preventable, no one would choose suffering and costly treatment.

 

Why nature is exposed in our mental wellness video?

This year UK mental health awareness week focuses on the human connection with nature. Nature is for sure good for mental wellness! Let us explain why.

Individuals who reported spending more than 120 minutes in nature during a past week had consistently higher levels of both health and well-being than those who reported no exposure to nature according to the article in Nature Magazine. This article pointed out that "Compared to no nature contact last week, the likelihood of reporting good health or high well-being became significantly greater with contact ≥120 mins. Positive associations peaked between 200–300 mins per week with no further gain. The pattern was consistent across key groups including older adults and those with long-term health issues. It did not matter how 120 mins of contact a week was achieved (e.g. one long vs. several shorter visits/week)."

So, what is proven is that visiting nature every week is vital in keeping us emotionally, psychologically and physically healthy. What you are probably aware of is that not all natural spaces are the same. Green spaces within a city such as parks are great, but over there you lack similar silence and peacefulness as in the wild nature.

When you visit wild forests, planes, mountains or bogs or blue spaces like natural riversides, wetlands or beaches you can come in contact with the deeper essence of nature. For many who live in noisy cities this kind of experience can be even somewhat frightening or uninteresting as it lacks external stimuli. Such natural spaces are often peaceful and without thrilling action. So, people sometimes do strange things, they listen to music with their headphones or keep their minds occupied with their phone screens. It reduces the calming effect of nature. 

As the UK Mental Health Awareness Week addresses the connection between mental health and nature, we open up why nature plays a huge role on our wellness webpage.
 

Observing the beautiful details of nature allow us to calm our minds
 

Why nature is so good for our mental health?

In nature, nothing happens in the past or the future. Everything is always fully present. The problem with our minds is, that we often process something that happened in the past or is expected to take place in the future. When we think and worry we are not fully present.

When you think an event occurs, it has already happened, as was stated by David Eagleman of the Baylor College of Medicine in the article in Scientific American. However, in nature everything dwells in the present moment, it is only us humans that fail to be fully present. What David Egelman was able to prove, was that human consciousness lags 80 milliseconds behind actual events. It happens as most of us run on 'autopilot' mode, where our mind is busy with thinking and feeling. 

We have become estranged from nature and our natural inner wellness

We are often afraid of nature, even laws in nature are predictable. Unless you live in an area with predators who are dangerous for humans or an area with poisonous snakes and bugs, the threat in nature, is much lower than in cities among humans. 

We have often totally forgotten the benefits of nature and healthy ways to live in partnership with nature. The pandemic demonstrated that we need to re-establish the human-nature connection and pay more attention to our mental wellness.

The UK Mental Health Foundation published that their research showed that "spending time outdoors has been one of the key factors enabling people to cope with the stress of the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, nearly half (45%) of people in the UK told us that visiting green spaces, such as parks, helped them to cope. Our findings are echoed by other research which has found that people visiting and noticing nature in particular was important in supporting their wellbeing. This is a really important point, as it helps us to understand that a connection with nature helps unlock the mental health benefits – and it also gives us essential clues on how to maximise these benefits for our wellbeing."

Wild nature calms our minds

There is plenty of scientific proof that the quality of our relationship with nature is essential to our own wellbeing.

A strong connection with nature is possible only when we establish our connection with the consciousness that is endlessly present in nature. Only when we become innerly calm, could we observe that under a normal situation nature is never stressed. Stress in nature is evident only under extraordinary situations. For example, when a predator is after prey, the hunted feels stress. But when this dangerous situation for the prey passes, stress ends and everything turns back to normal as nothing ever happened. Animals and plants let go and do not get stuck to what happened. They move on.

We humans also need to learn to let go. But this demands, that first of all, we need to be grounded in the present moment. What causes us intrapersonal problems is our constant train of thoughts. Even when an event passes (and it does not even have to be a life-threatening danger), we keep being stuck with it. We re-live it in our minds again and again and again and again. This inner replay causes worry and makes us lag behind reality. 

When those worrying thoughts will rise negative feelings, we feel bad about it. And we have a loop where our thoughts feed our feelings, and our feelings feed our thoughts. All we actually need to do to stop this. Instead of letting the mind race, we should focus on our inner silence for a while. That is something that is so easy to do in nature.

As nature is present, we can too become present. We can do that by breeding in and observing where we are.

In such wild forests the outer silence becomes your inner silence
 

Automatic inner reactivity as a problem leading to mental health issues

Most of the time no one is after us. Most of the time none of us is prey. Most of the time we face no immediate danger (like the hunted animal in wild nature). Yet, we worry about it.

What we can learn from nature is the basic calmness that appears in the present moment. Birds sing until there is no danger. Then there are a few warning cries, and everyone prepares to take a flight. When danger is there, birds fly away and do not discuss should we do that or not. Birds do not call a meeting or ask for approval from the boss. They fly and find a new peaceful place. However, when danger passes or turns out not to be real, they continue singing a moment later as if nothing ever happened. Such capacity to be fully present is often missing in our society and workplaces.

Our own inner automatic reactivity causes fears and 'what if discussions' that never happen in nature. It also causes stress that leads to mental health problems.

It is time to learn from nature how to me well

Research shows that people who spend time in nature and feel connected with it have better mental wellness and more likely feel that their lives are worthwhile.

Most nature lovers are aware that in nature everything constantly changes and there is no need to get stuck in the past. They are more willing to let go and move on. 

While nature is everywhere, clean wild nature is no longer available equally. We, humans, have often destroyed natural habitats for our profit or business. Often we have done it carelessly, without truly understanding what this destruction means. We often destroy nature for the sake of more natural resources, that we then use for making products that enable us to entertain ourselves. 

People who lived in the countryside had respect for their surroundings as it feed them and kept them safe. Today, most of us do not feel that way about nature. Instead, we consume it. Our consumeristic approach has nothing to do with being present or happy. Consumerism just replaces our lack of intrapersonal skills and personal sustainability with the need to look for external solutions to feel good.
 


Dr. Helena Lass wrote in her scientific paper: "The majority of problems in personal wellbeing, professional excellence and intrapersonal health exist due to the global lack of understanding on intra-personal functions and respective skills. Current solutions are either substitutive in nature (consumerism to activate positive emotions, use of stimulants and addictive substances to alter internal states, use of entertainment and other activities to get “mind off things”) or do not provide practical skills that can be implemented independently."

 

Mental wellness = learning to live with change

When we would observe nature, we would notice that nothing is permanent. Instead, everything is changing. Also, our emotions and thoughts are not permanent. They come and go like waves of the ocean. Sometimes calmly, sometimes with high stormy waves that destroy. We can change 'our inner storms' when we learn from nature how to be conscious or fully present. It allows us to observe different processes before acting reactively on them. 

Not so long ago, we had much greater respect towards nature, nature kept us sane and well and it also fed us as we were more aware and conscious.

Now, instead, most of us have become disconnected from nature and our True Selves. We overvalue thinking, emotions and material stuff. The result is here, we experience more and more mental health problems.

The step towards awareness and intrapersonal skills

We need to take a step back, inwardly, towards our consciousness. We need to relearn what is consciousness, what is awareness, and how we can use those two qualities for our mental wellbeing. 

We need to reestablish, not only contact with nature, but also with ourselves. 

You are not our thoughts. You are not our emotions. You are not your physical body. You are not your worldly possessions. You use your thoughts, emotions and physical body just as you use the stuff you own or rent. 

Just as we manage things and lead processes around us, we should manage and lead processes within us. Observing nature enables us to re-learn that. Also, practical intrapersonal skills enable us to learn that. Training our mental wellness in a systematic proactive way can enable us to learn this. And for this, we do not need superficial tips that fail. For this, we need systematic intrapersonal education. Providing such practical education is our passion as this enables humans to prevent mental health issues and boost productivity and interpersonal relations.

Conclusions

The key message of this blog is simple, we need to reestablish natural order around us and within us. We need to rediscover the true essence of the nature around us and the true essence of our inner domain. 

When we respect the laws of nature, nature takes care of us and our minds. When we are too egoistic and destroy our nature and lose our contact with the present moment, we also start losing our mental and physical wellbeing.

Reestablishing our respectful relationship with nature and our consciousness will allow us to discover a sustainable path forward. However, nothing changes if you do not take the first step towards understanding your inner domain. Stop procrastination and start with it today.