Welcome to a new episode in my weekly blog series, my regular intention to write about the life and times of Splodz of Splodz Blogz…
The weather has been really (really) pants this week. Again. And as you know, I don’t do well with constant grey skies and rain; my mood always follows. On Monday, the rain was so heavy that it felt very much like someone had pushed my house into a car wash. And I hate car washes. With that, I’ve spent most of the week wearing my favourite comfy clothes, cooking my favourite food (possibly my best lasagne yet…), and being generally unproductive. A bit like last week, then. Oh dear.
In this weekly blog I’m going to chat about nature, the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, some good news about our summer road trip plans, and a lovely walk I had this morning near Gloucester.
Mental Health Awareness Week
The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week this year, which finished today, has been Nature. Set up by the Mental Health Foundation to get us all talking a bit more about our mental health, it’s been wonderful to see so much openness and honesty on my social media feeds this last week.
The theme of this year’s week has been particularly useful for me. Nature is so central to our psychological and emotional health. For most of human history, we lived as part of nature; it is only in the last five generations that so many of us have lived and worked in a context that is largely separated from the natural world.
Evidence demonstrates the powerful benefits of nature for our mental health. If we open ourselves up to nature, it has an ability to not only bring consolation in times of stress, but also increase our creativity, empathy and a sense of wonder. Even small contacts with nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and be effective in protecting our mental health, and preventing distress.
Nature is our great untapped resource for a mentally healthy future.
(Information from MentalHealth.org.uk, a great resource for mental health matters.)
I honestly can’t stress enough how much being outdoors helps keep my mind in check. It’s one of the most important daily habits I keep. I don’t have to go far; some fresh air and natural light works wonders.
If you haven’t found the benefits of spending time outside in nature yet, I encourage you to start by spending a little bit of time outside at your next available opportunity. Concentrate on experiencing the natural world that happens to be close to where you are. Notice the bird song, the way the wind moves the trees, the different colours in the grass. I speak a lot about how One Hour Outside has helped me, but you can get some benefits from the fresh air and natural light in just 15 minutes.
It should probably go without saying, but let me also add a reminder that taking care of your mental health, whether that means seeking therapy, taking medication, setting new boundaries, saying yes more, saying no more, hiding for a day, going for a really long walk, or some combination of these things, is a sign of strength, not weakness.
As Mental Health Awareness Week draws to a close, let’s all commit to continuing to consciously notice our own and other people’s mental health needs, and going with the flow as much as possible.
A Wander Up Chosen Hill
After spending my Saturday doing absolutely nothing other than mope in the house because the weather was as pants as can be, when I woke up this morning to unexpected sunshine, I made a very quick decision to get out for a walk in the countryside. Taking some of my own advice for a change, I plotted a short route on OS Maps, grabbed my boots, and drove over to Churchdown to see what the view was like from the top of Chosen Hill.
Chosen Hill, also known as Churchdown Hill, sits between Gloucester and Cheltenham, and has good views good views over the Cotswold scarp and the Severn Vale. Looking at the map I discovered there are loads of footpaths crossing the hill, and in fairness I picked some at random to take me up to the trig pillar, around one of the reservoirs and through the nature reserve, and back down passed St Bartholomew’s Church – apparently the latter one is known as “coffin way”.
With bluebell season starting to end, I also made sure I walked through the woodland, and have to say it was such a beautiful display. The steep hill and the dappled light made those purple flowers sing.
I only walked around three miles, my aim being to enjoy my One Hour Outside in the sunshine and be back at the car before the rain caught me, but it was a beautiful place to explore. I didn’t even need my coat for that hour, I could maybe suggest it was perfect timing.
There are a number of covered reservoirs on the hill, and the area is designated nature reserve (look out for the duck on the OS Explorer map), managed by the Woodland Trust, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, and Severn Trent Water. There’s also an Iron Age fort, “Churchdown Hill Camp”, as you might expect with it being a hill with such great views down the valley.
The hill is reasonably steep in places and the mud did try to spoil my fun a bit, but it was a lovely short walk in the warm sunshine, I’m glad I made the effort to go. I left plenty of footpaths for my next visit, which I will try and make sure isn’t too long away.
Iceland is (Probably) On!
Our Iceland trip is on! Most probably. Hopefully. At the moment…! I’m very happy to report the situation as it is now both here in England and over in Iceland means that Globebusters, who are running the trip we’ve booked, feel confident enough to confirm our motorcycle tour due to take place later in the summer.
We know that this still hangs in the balance, I’m not naive, but I do feel optimistic. I love road tripping, and this is going to be a road trip like no other. An adventure exploring somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, with rugged wilderness, glaciers, volcanoes, hot springs, waterfalls – I honestly can’t wait.
Of course, now the get fit to ride challenge really has to begin. I always find motorcycle trips much more fun when I’m strong and fit, and right now I’m neither of those two things. I know it would be better if I always looked after my fitness, but I’m afraid I always seem to need something to give me a bit of a shove in the right direction, and here is that thing. Squats, crunches and my exercise bike will be my best friend again for a while… I might need some encouragement there if you remember sometime!
As always, I would really love to hear from you in the comments below. Let me know what your favourite thing about the last seven days has been, and don’t forget to get your One Hour Outside today… whatever day you happen to be reading this on!
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