Christmas countdown #12 – it’s good to walk (and talk)

We all know that getting outdoors has many health benefits but one of the biggest is the impact it has on our mental health and wellbeing.

Commended in the ‘Art’ category of the Ross in Lockdown photo competition 2020 – Sharon Yorke’s landscape painting

The Mental Health Foundation has created an excellent guide called ‘Thriving with Nature’ which gives some great advice on getting the most of the UK’s natural spaces. The report, sponsored by the WWF and supported by TV presenter Julia Bradbury, states that “There are lots of ways in which spending time in nature can be positive for our mental health and wellbeing. New and exciting research is happening all the time that adds to our understanding of how our natural environment affects the health of our bodies and minds. The reasons why time in nature has this effect on us are complex and still being understood. The benefits are often related to how our senses connect us to the environment around us, from the shapes in nature we see to the scents that trees give off and the soft fascination that nature can stimulate which helps our minds rest.”

Local walking group Mental Health Mates meets up for socially distanced group walks throughout the year. The group is led by Pete, Sam and Eli who are all passionate about how being outside supports their mental wellbeing and provides a friendly space in which anyone affected by mental health issues can have a chat with others who understand what it’s like. Group leader Sam said: “We knew there was a national network of these groups and as we live somewhere so lovely we really wanted to see if this could take off in Ross-on-Wye. We love meeting and chatting with local people who come along to take part in these walks.”

After their last scheduled walk on 8 November was cancelled due to lockdown, their final walk of 2020 is taking place on Sunday 13 December. If you’d like to join them, they are meeting at 10am in the carpark of the Ross Town and Country Trail carpark at the bottom of Fernbank Road. For more information, you can drop them an email at mentalhealthmatesrossonwye@gmail.com or find them on Instagram @MHMRoss_on_Wye.

Photo: Sharon Yorke‘s landscape painting which was Commended in the ‘Art’ category of the Ross in Lockdown photo competition 2020.

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