With these unprecedented times, mental health must particularly be highlighted and prioritised for every single person. One of the easiest, cheapest yet most beneficial ways to help improve your mental health is nature.

1) Be mindful. As we are all constantly rushing and trying to move forward through this stressful situation of coronavirus, we are rarely conscious of the beauty of nature. Statistically, urban areas occupy 39% more mental health disorders compared to rural areas. Therefore, access to a nature-filled environment is substantially evident of better mental health. So, everyday take at least a few minutes to stop and simply be present in the moment by observing the sky, rain, birds, stars and the moon with as much of your senses. Appreciate and acknowledge each deep breath. Open your eyes by looking at the uniqueness of each pattern on a flower. Observe the pictures a cloud makes. For, it is in the stillness of our minds and bodies where inner happiness becomes clear, undisturbed by overthinking of the past and the future, so that your can truly embrace the present, even if only for a moment.

2) Go for a walk. Did you know that just a 10 minute walk can heavily improve your cognitive functioning by regulating serotonin and even boost your creativity levels? Just 10 minutes. This small aspect of your day will set your energy levels up for the rest of the day, or if you decide to go out in the evening, it will calm your mind, which often holds 100 thoughts both conscious and subconscious racing every minute. Proactively, your headspace will become clearer and positive, as you actively shift your perspective away from external worries, such as school and/or work.

3) Include nature within your hobbies. You can add nature as part of your existing hobbies or try something completely new! For example, photography of a range of nature opens the door to seeing and feeling completely immersed in the soulful beauty all around you. Even in the present climate where the terms, ‘lockdown' and ‘stay at home' have become the norm, buy one or more house plants and tend to them regularly, keeping them somewhere you are often located. This can be at your workspace, your bedroom or anywhere you are commonly at. Looking after them reflect looking after yourself – something that is daily vital. Paint a picture, feel the fresh air when you play football, if you love science, experiment with and learn about the biodiversity in your area. Express your true self! You will then find that nature not only heals and calms, but excites and inspires!

Taking time out for yourself is essential for your internal growth and is proven to provide long-term benefits, such as reduced blood pressure, self-esteem and overall happiness. Personally, it is something that has helped me stay hopeful and calm my stresses of school and exams, so hopefully this will help you too. It is time to put yourself first.

Please remember to take care of your mental and physical wellbeing, especially in the midst of this pandemic. Let’s go on a journey to self care.....take a deep breath.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain..."    - Vivian Greene 

- Written By Saambavii Suthakaran, Caterham High School