Anxiety, mental health and finding calm in nature

Tuesday 16th May, 2023

Anxiety is something that most of us will experience at different stages of life. But sometimes when things get overwhelming, anxiety can get out of control, and it can have impacts on your mental health. However, there are lots of simple ways to manage your anxiety.

Over the last few years, the pandemic, social isolation and the rising cost of living, have led to an increased social awareness of anxiety. Which is why the Mental Health Foundation have chosen anxiety as the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

Anxiety is usually associated with the thought of a threat or something going wrong in the future, but it can also arise from something happening right now. It’s a totally normal emotion and comes from a human response to stress or perceived danger. You might be feeling anxious about exams, relationships or work. Or you might be worried about money, heating bills or paying your rent. However, for some people, the feelings of anxiety can become overwhelming and it starts to impact on other aspects of their life.

If you suffer with anxiety, you should know you’re not alone. In March 2023, the Mental Health Foundation conducted an online survey of 6,000 UK adults aged 18+. Nearly three-quarters of the group (73%) had felt anxious at least sometimes in the previous two weeks. Furthermore, one in five people (20%) feel anxious most of or all of the time.

Ways to cope

The ways people cope with anxiety differ from person to person, but there are some well evidenced things that can help. Keeping a journal, getting support for money worries, connecting with other people, and talking about how you’re feeling. These can all help give you perspective on what’s going on around you.

We know that spending time in nature has a positive impact on our mental health. It can help us feel calmer and less stressed. Sitting in nature can help give you a sense of peace and can connect you to your environment. Nature can be anything from opening your windows and listening to the birds, to going for a walk in the great outdoors.

A study done by Exeter University has arrived at a definitive minimum amount of time spent in nature that yields tangible results. Just two hours of outdoor time a week is enough to see a marked increase in the benefits. And it doesn’t even have to be in one go…you could spend 20 minutes a day in your local park or save up and binge on a long walk at the weekend; the result is the same. –  Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to Happiness

Finding calm in Renfrewshire

We’re fortunate in Renfrewshire to have great options for places to get connected to nature. From local parks to riverside forests. We asked our followers on Instagram for suggestions of where they like to go for peace and calm. Here is the top three.

Barshaw Park Walled Peace Garden

Barshaw Park Walled Peace Garden

This tranquil garden is an oasis of calm not far from Paisley town centre. Managed by the Friends of Barshaw Park, the garden was originally the kitchen garden of Barshaw House. Built in 1798, the high walls and surrounding trees create a microclimate, allowing a wide variety of plants to thrive.

In 1986 the garden was dedicated as a Peace Garden, and there is a white peace pole at the centre of the garden, where memorial events are held throughout the year. The garden is a peaceful place for calm and reflection, and with wide flat paths, it’s a space everyone can enjoy.

Sunset in Locherwood

Locherwood Community Woodland

Just off the B756, Locherwood is a beautiful network of trails with vast views stretching across Renfrewshire. The woods are home to an abundance of wildlife, including roe deer and black and red grouse. There are two main circular walks – a 2km Locherwood trail and the longer 7km Ladymuir trail. The rural nature of Locherwood means it’s often very quiet.

Glen Park

Gleniffer Braes

Accessible from both Johnstone and Paisley, the Braes is home to tons of wildlife and incredible views stretching in all directions. Favourite places for a peaceful wander include Glen Park, with its winding trails and waterfalls. The Tannahill Walkway with views over Paisley to the Kilpatrick Hills and Ben Lomond in the distance. And Glenburn Reservoir with wide open grassland and highland coos. We have a few komoot routes around the Braes, including an easy walk around Glen Park.

Reach out

If you are having a hard time with anxiety, or any other form of poor mental health, you can reach out to Recovery Across Mental Health (RAMH). RAMH supports people across Renfrewshire with recovery from mental ill health. They can support in several ways including one-to-one counselling, social support and self-management.

Renfrewshire Council also have a list of organisations you can contact for mental health support, including crisis care and freephone helplines.

Find peace outside