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World Mental Health Day: getting outdoors

Today is World Mental Health Day: a day to show your support for better mental health and raise awareness of mental health problems.

It's also a great day to encourage people to take more care of their own mental wellbeing. One way to do this couldn't be simpler: get outdoors!

Take a walk through the woods and boost your mood (Photo: WTML)
Take a walk through the woods and boost your mood (Photo: WTML)

Scientific research suggests that exposure to the great outdoors can work wonders for your mental health. Countless studies have proven that getting outside and being among nature can:

  • improve depression
  • ease anxiety
  • reduce stress. 

Even during the cooler seasons, being outside can help with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), as the natural light can boost your mood.

In an age where we spend most of our time inside, often locked in the glare of a computer screen, stepping outdoors can be a great way to relax and unwind. And the best thing is, there are so many different ways you can enjoy being at one with nature. Here are just a few ideas.

Take a walk in the woods

There is nothing more peaceful than taking a leisurely stroll in the woods. Surrounded by dappled sunlight, the rustling of leaves and the sweet sound of birdsong, your mood is sure to be boosted. Whether you bring your dog along, join a rambler’s club or venture out with the family, woodland walks are a great way to improve your mental wellbeing.

A walk with your four-legged friend is a great way to unwind (Photo: WTML)
A walk with your four-legged friend is a great way to unwind (Photo: WTML)

Go foraging

Step outside into nature’s kitchen and have a go at foraging. As long as you forage responsibly and follow our foraging guidelines, you can enjoy a peaceful search for some delicious food. It’s a great way to experience the outdoors and achieve something at the same time. Plus, you can whip up some tasty treats once you’re back inside.

Watch wildlife

The outside is home to an abundance of wildlife, and one way to improve mental wellbeing is by simply sitting back and watching wildlife as it happens. Visit your local wood and look out for squirrels, foxes, insects and birds. Birdwatching is a great way to help you relax, and anyone can do it – no special equipment needed.Grab our bird swatch book and you'll be able to identify them with ease! 

Do some al fresco exercise

Why not mix it up with two mental health boosters and try exercising outside? You could head for a run in the woods, visit an outdoor gym or even do some yoga in your garden. Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your mental wellbeing, so doing it outdoors can be the ultimate mood-booster.

Family fun

Of course, the whole family can reap the benefits of heading outside and grabbing some quality time together. Many of our woods - including Heartwood Forest, Bellsquarry Wood and Skipton Castle Woods - all have family trails to follow. Woodland adventure awaits! Or, you can create your own family fun no matter which wood you’re in, thanks to our Nature Detectives activities. Build a woodland den, see which minibeasts you can find or go hunting for leaves – there’s so much to do.


Give something back while enjoying the benefits of being outside by volunteering with the Woodland Trust. Have a go at woodland photography, become a woodland warden or help out with guided walks. With opportunities all around the UK for a wide variety of different skill sets, you’re sure to find something that suits you.

So, this World Mental Health Day, why not venture outside, improve your wellbeing and reap the rewards of the great outdoors?

Get outside and feel great

Find a wood near you