“And the earth – We spread it out and cast therein firmly set mountains and made grow therein [something] of every beautiful kind, Giving insight and a reminder for every servant who turns [to Allah].” [Quran 50:7-8]
How Nature Can Help Your Mental Health
During the coronavirus pandemic with limited opportunities to socialise, many of us turned to nature – particularly enjoying walks outside in parks and forests. So it is no surprise that nature is the theme for UK Mental Health Week 2021.
Nature is an important part of our physical and mental health, which can also help with creativity by decluttering our minds. In the Quran, there are over 500 verses about nature. Allah (swt) repeatedly calls on mankind to reflect on His signs.
This includes all aspects of nature such as trees, mountains, seas, animals, birds, stars, the Sun, and the Moon. Observing nature is a vital aspect of any Muslim’s spiritual journey. It’s important to recognise that connecting with nature can help Muslims to connect to Allah (swt) and reduce feelings of isolation.
And the earth – We spread it out and cast therein firmly set mountains and made grow therein [something] of every beautiful kind, Giving insight and a reminder for every servant who turns [to Allah].”
Spending time with nature has been found to help mental health problems including anxiety and mild depression. Here are some practical tips that you can try.
Grow, pick and forage your own food
- You can grow your own fruit, vegetables, and flowers in your garden. If you don’t have the space for that, you can plant herbs in a small window garden.
- Alternatively, you could apply for an allotment space or see if your local area has community garden projects that you can get involved with.
- You can pick fruit at a local farm or learn how to forage for fruit. Here’s a month-by-month guide to sustainable foraging, what’s in season, and how to eat it. You must ensure that you forage responsibly and safely by taking no more than you intend to consume and be aware that some sites have habitats for rare or vulnerable species.
- It is illegal to dig up or remove a plant from the land on which it is growing without permission from the landowner or occupier. All wild plants in the UK are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).
- You must also safely identify what you are eating in case it is poisonous!
Connect with your environment and animals
- Spend time in your garden or visit local parks, forests, and city farms to look for birds, squirrels, and insects.
- There are lots of nature surveys that you can take part in to assist you on your search, including the Big Garden Birdwatch.
- You can hang bird feeders outside your window or on your trees to attract more wildlife.
Do they not see the birds above them with wings outspread and [sometimes] folded in? None holds them [aloft] except the Most Merciful. Indeed He is, of all things, Seeing.”
Take your indoor activities outside
- Eat more of your meals outside when there is good weather. You can do this in your garden or plan a picnic to visit a new natural attraction with your family and friends.
- Take your exercise routine outside because studies have shown it lowers your blood pressure and heart rate. Therefore exercise outdoors feels less strenuous than similar exercise indoors, which means you are more likely to reach your maximum fitness potential.
- Many people tend to do creative work such as painting and writing indoors. Go outside and be inspired by nature.
Bring nature into your home
- Put pot plants and fresh flowers around your home for some colour. Plants also release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. This freshens up the air and eliminates harmful toxins. Studies prove that house-plants improve concentration and productivity by up to 15%, reduce stress levels, and boost your mood.
- If you are a keen photographer, take photos of your favourite place outside, print, frame, and put them around your home. It will bring back memories and serve as a reminder to go outside more often.
Allah (swt) created nature for our physical existence and mental wellbeing, so take the opportunity to enjoy it, insha’ Allah.
“And He is the One Who spread out the earth and placed firm mountains and rivers upon it, and created fruits of every kind in pairs. He covers the day with night. Surely in this are signs for those who reflect.” (Quran 13:3)