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Mindful walks

Getting out into nature is great for our mental health. This article explores how even watching nature on screen can boost our sense of wellbeing.

Over the last few steps, you’ve developed an awareness of your senses and the positive impact that they can have on your mental wellbeing.

A ‘mindful walk’ exercise can consolidate this learning, encouraging present moment awareness and recognition of the value of our surroundings.

When we walk, it’s easy to slip into ‘autopilot’ mode, especially when travelling a familiar route. However, when we walk mindfully, we take in everything around us and give our minds a break from analysing, planning, ruminating, or going completely blank.

Benefits of nature
Taking a mindful walk is also the perfect opportunity to enjoy the mental health benefits of spending a bit more time outside. Outdoor walks have been found to:

  • Restore focus
  • Lower stress levels
  • Reduce feelings of loneliness
  • Alleviate pain.1

It’s no wonder that millions of us turned to open-air strolls to get us through multiple lockdowns.2

“So where does film come in?” you might ask. Well, emerging research suggests that watching nature on TV also boosts our mental wellbeing. As we watch films that travel through natural landscapes, our mood is lifted, negative feelings decrease and the boredom caused by extended periods indoors eases.3

By filming these beautiful places for others, those with limited access to green spaces can still experience some of nature’s rejuvenating power. That’s just what over 400 young people set out to do when they filmed their local outdoor spaces for our Nature in Your Neighbourhood competition.

Activity
Watch the youth-made film, New Neighbours, and practise raising awareness through your senses of sight and hearing. Use the Nature on Screen activity sheet, available in the Downloads section, to record some of your observations. Below are a few things to look out for as you watch.

Looking:

  • Colours, shapes, lines and textures across the setting
  • Elements of nature
  • Movements and movement patterns.

Listening:

  • Different pitches and tones
  • Sounds rising or falling
  • Repeated sounds
  • Moments of silence coming and going.

Share
Once complete, you can upload your activity sheet to the Mindfulness Through Film Week 1 Padlet. While you’re there, check out your fellow educators’ observations to see how they compare.

You can also share any further thoughts about the activity in the Comments.

1 Franco, L. S., Shanahan, D. F., & Fuller, R. A. (2017). A Review of the Benefits of Nature Experiences: More Than Meets the Eye. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(8), 864. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14080864

2 Mental Health Foundation. (2021). Nature: How connecting with nature benefits our mental health. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/nature/nature-research

3 Yeo, N.L., White, M.P., Alcock, I., Garside, R., Dean, S.G., Smalley, A.J. & Gatersleben, B. (2020). What is the best way of delivering virtual nature for improving mood? An experimental comparison of high definition TV, 360° video, and computer generated virtual reality. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2020.101500

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Mindfulness Through Film

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