Blogs ACT Blogs Take 5 outdoors for mental health Much has been written about the benefits interaction with nature can bring to our mental health. It can improve your mood, help you feel relaxed or reduce feelings of stress. Our Branching Out project works by getting people back to nature to tackle the problems people feel with depression, isolation, and other long-term conditions. One of our participants said: “I just wanted to come today to get out of the house…to get fresh air and get out…I chopped wood and made soup. That was great.” This may sound simple, and that’s because it is! In today’s busy world, we could all benefit from getting back out into nature and simplifying things. For Mental Health Awareness Week we’ve rounded up what we think are the best ideas for getting outdoors in Argyll (or beyond) to benefit your mental health. 1. Do some "green" exercise Studies have found that exercising outdoors can have mental health benefits. It can benefit your self-esteem and boost your mood. We’re certainly not short of options for outdoor exercise here in Argyll! You could take a walk, enjoy a cycle or use an outdoor gym in your area. In Lochgilphead, there is one at Blarbuie Woodland. Or why not search Ramblers Scotland or Paths for All for a walking group in your area? This is also a great way to meet people. Users enjoying the green gym at Blarbuie Woodlands 2. Escape to the woods There are plenty of options for woodland walks across Argyll. There is something about being surrounded by trees and the colour green in general that is an instant mood booster, and never fails to make us feel reconnected to nature. The labyrinth at Blarbuie Woodlands 3. Enjoy the calm of water This is easy as there is water everywhere in Argyll – burns, lochs, waterfalls, sea. Being close to water also has health benefits. Some good options are watching the waves at Westport Beach or visiting the magical waterfalls at Pucks Glen in Cowal. Westport beach, South Kintyre 4. Go birdwatching Recently, a lot has been said on the benefits of birdwatching on mental health. Plenty of people, ourselves included, find it very therapeutic and calming. You don’t need to know anything about birds to enjoy watching them! However, the RSPB have a fun tool where you can identify the birds you see: the RSPB Bird Identifier. Robin 5. Spot wildlife Argyll is packed with wildlife, from red squirrels to beavers, eider ducks to eagles. Taynish National Nature Reserve is a great place to take a peaceful stroll – you might even get lucky and see an otter. There are tips on where you might see them here. If you do spot any wildlife, why not consider letting the Woodland Trust know what’s happening near you by using Nature’s calendar? You’ll get that added feel-good factor from knowing that you are contributing to research which will help to understand the effects of weather and climate change on wildlife in our environment. At Taynish National Nature Reserve, Mid Argyll, you might be lucky enough to spot... ... an otter (photo: Caroline Anderson) At ACT, we work towards everyone in Argyll & the Isles being able to experience and appreciate our spectacular coast and countryside. You can support us by joining as a member or making a donation.