Mental Health Awareness Week takes place this week (10-16 May 2021) and this year’s theme is nature. Here at the Brussels NI Office, we believe the theme is incredibly fitting, as we have come to know the simple power that being in nature holds for our mental health. With lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions, many have found the past year difficult and the beautiful outdoors has brought a lot of comfort.
Being in nature has many benefits for our mental wellbeing. For most of human existence we have lived as one with nature, and it is only over the past few generations that we have become more separated from nature in our personal and professional lives. Sometimes we just need to reconnect with our roots! The benefits of being in and interacting with nature include increased creativity, empathy and sense of wonder as well as reduced feelings of social isolation and distress.
The members of our Team in Brussels and in Northern Ireland have gathered pictures of their favourite nature spots which help us to de-stress and clear our minds.
Our office Director, Lynsey, has shared this picture of Portstewart strand.
Other members of our office, Patricia and Rosemary, also love being outdoors in Northern Ireland and have shared some of the beautiful photos below, demonstrating the joy that comes from reconnecting with the world we live in. When we look at these images we feel peace, joy and wonder.
Many of us have grown up surrounded by the outstanding natural beauty we are blessed with. However, on moving to Brussels to take up positions at the Northern Ireland Executive office, we have discovered this is something that Belgium and Northern Ireland have in common.
Ryan, who is our Energy and Sustainability Policy Officer, as well as trained mental health first aider for the office, has this to say about being in nature:
“I have always been aware of the benefits of ‘getting outside’ for my mental health but spending time in green spaces has never felt so important than in the past year. I am fortunate that I live in a city that has vast areas of forest trails and parks to enjoy and I have availed of them frequently. For me they allow me to take time out of my own head and provide a calming effect which has been crucial for my wellbeing. They also provide the perfect backdrop to capture some photographs and combine one of my pastimes.”
Deputy Director of the office, Nuala, also knows the value of getting outdoors and adores the natural beauty of Brussels parks.
Other office members, Lynda and Ursula, also shared these great pictures of their favourite spots in Belgium to walk with their furry friends! Having a pet can be a great companion and they encourage you to get outdoors more, it’s a win-win for positive mental wellbeing.
Finally, Ursula also shared this stunning photo of Northern Ireland’s iconic landmark, The Giant’s Causeway. A popular tourist attraction that is also cherished among locals all year round thanks to its outstanding beauty, the power of nature and the true sense of calm one feels here.
We hope you will make some time to get outdoors this week. Do tag us in your pictures of nature around Northern Ireland and Brussels!