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Emma Lusby: The great outdoors can ease stress

Adel Dam nature reserve in Leeds.
Adel Dam nature reserve in Leeds.
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It’s mental health awareness week. We know being outdoors brings mental as well as physical benefits – many of us feel happier outside in green spaces.

Taking a stroll down a peaceful footpath or through a woodland or nature reserve – listening to the trees alive with spring birdsong may be one of the best and cheapest ways to unwind on a weekend or day off.

A nuthatch poised, ready for flight.

A nuthatch poised, ready for flight.

Alone or with family, I find a stroll somewhere like Adel Dam or admiring landscapes in the Dales recharges me, makes me feel happier and lighter, cast free from the worries and responsibilities of the working week.

We are creatures of habit, we are attracted by familiarity and maybe our innate need to feel safe, secure and provided for has us returning to familiar places again and again.

Places take on memories, time spent with family and friends – a lazy picnic on a hot summer’s day or that time we saw the trees frozen white with a hard winter frost that gave the landscape a magical otherworld-liness.

Returning to places throughout the year keeps us in touch with the changing seasons – and every year I feel blessed to live in a country with the rhythm of a temperate climate, I look forward to the gems that each new season reveals, even winter!

If we are lucky, the natural world appears in our lives throughout the week.

I love our garden as well as the short walk through my local park after taking my daughter to school in a morning. I live in a vibrant village, with busy roads and bustle but somehow the park always has a stillness. Jays, redwing, nuthatches, bouncing squirrels have all stopped me in my tracks at some point.

I take a deep breath and then go, return, ready to start the day.

So I say grab that green while you can and whenever it appears.

Sign up to 30 Days Wild in June encourages people to do something wild every day for the month of June. This year’s theme is all about helping wildlife in your neighbourhood.

Take a break from a mobile or laptop screen to enjoy the view flashing past on a train journey.

Perhaps there’s riverside to bring calm, or a tree or well-tended garden to admire on a commute or visit.

Fill your lungs, take a moment’s peace. Don’t wait for the weekend.