Mental health is hard. It just is. Many factors can impact how we feel, for better and worse, and sometimes it is too abstract to establish what it is that brings us down. But the importance of mental health awareness cannot be overstated, especially as we start to emerge from the global pandemic.
At Divido we have always placed a high priority on mental health awareness; creating a safe working environment for all of our colleagues as well as providing mental health cover as part of the employee benefits plan.
Now, with the arrival of Spring, as we start to think about returning to the world, what better time to embrace the green shoots of nature: the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week? So, we asked the Divido team to explain in their own words how they engage with nature as a way of bolstering their own emotional health and mental wellbeing.
Victoria Proddow, Partner Marketing Manager
If the last year has taught me anything, it’s an appreciation of being outside and the positive impact it has on my energy and mental wellbeing. With two young boys at home, it has become ever more important to get some fresh air and exercise each day, whether that be playing in the garden or walking to the local nature reserve. I notice a huge difference in how I feel even if I only can get outside for 15 minutes compared to spending the day within four walls. The best example and use of the saying ‘take a breather’, is actually when you can step into the fresh air to re-energise – a bonus if the sun is also shining.
Christer Holloman, CEO
As an aspiring triathlete, nature is my favourite gym; for running, biking and swimming! Whilst from time to time it offers up challenges like freezing cold temperatures, strong winds or downpours, most of the time it’s just great, and free. Regardless of the weather, it’s always delivering on clearing my mind and offering a space for a little bit of me-time.
Kashay Jackson-Hughes, Talent Acquisition Specialist
Fresh air has always offered such a relieving feeling for me. Whether I have a ton on my plate, or nothing to worry about at all; a nice, soft breeze brings such a freeing and comforting feeling, chasing my stress and anxieties away. When it’s raining, you’ll still find me with my living room windows open, or even back at home during the harsh Canadian winter, you’ll see me driving by with my windows down – fresh air is an incomparable feeling.
Darren Weake, Head of Service Delivery
Working from home throughout the past year, the impact of Nature on mental wellbeing is even more acute than before. Being in an office environment, there are so many distractions and stimuli which break up the day, and for those that thrive on social interactions, this is often what adds colour and brings life to the everyday. Working from home can be relentless, and it’s important to create time to pause and reflect. Where I live, I’m lucky to have several parks around, offering the chance to escape the workstation and be surrounded by Nature.
There have been numerous studies on the effects of Nature on wellbeing, from the colour ‘green’ to the tranquility of seeing trees and vegetation. For me, having grown up in New Zealand, I have a deep sense of appreciation of the outdoors and the positive benefits of even taking a walk through bush or the local parks.
Work-life balance is so important to having a balanced, positive outlook, and I encourage everyone to reflect and create these mini breaks to enjoy Nature – the benefits of which may not seem obvious but they do exist.
Victoria Proddow, Partner Marketing Manager, Divido
James Weller, VP People & Performance
I’ve always had an affinity for the water for as long as I can remember and, whilst lockdown put pay to my regular swim group, the water has still provided some salvation and escape. Whether that’s been padding the waterways of Surrey in an inflatable kayak or closer to home with wistful wanders on the banks of old mother Thames. Sunset on Putney bridge is my favourite time and space for reflection; the menagerie of the river’s occupants I like to imagine as my thoughts and worries sailing off into the distance.
Peter Hay, Senior Content Manager
Having grown up in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands, nature has always played a key role in my life and, in turn, has had a profound and positive impact on my mental well-being. Now living in London, a (very!) stark contrast, I am lucky enough to live beside Hampstead Heath which, during the lockdowns, has played a key role in keeping me positive: offering a daily escape from my little flat. As the sun increasingly starts to break out, I am really excited to start my weekly pilgrimages to the Hampstead Ponds for a restorative splash about, immersed in the healing properties of nature.
Toby McCrindle, Head of Legal & Compliance
Vegetables. Not exciting, not everyone eats them. I don’t really eat them. But I have been growing them. In fact, I’ve grown so much over the last two summers that I have to give a lot away, or feed it to my (by now) super healthy dogs. And when I can’t grow them in the winter months, I plan out what I’m going to grow and how.
I started growing things out of curiosity and, what I later realised, was a need to do something totally disconnected from the hyper-paced world of tech and law. The slow and simple process of growing something from seed, using only basic inputs (time, sun, soil, rain (so much rain), patience) has been a vital antidote to coping with the intense stress of work and family life in a locked-down environment.
There is something freeing, and actually quite empowering in putting your faith in the seasons and the weather; to realise that we can’t control everything and that, actually, that’s ok. It gives me time to think, or sometimes to not think, and just focus on the specific job I’m doing – invariably patrolling for slugs.
Anyone who has observed me stalking the vegetable bed at sundown on the prowl for invertebrates would probably conclude that I do have problems, but I know that without connecting to the natural world in my own particular way, I would be far worse off.