I used to be a teacher and then trained as a forest school leader. Since then I have learned more and more about the impact of being outdoors on our mental health and wellbeing. Before adopting for the second time I was running intervention and nurture groups for children outdoors following the forest school ethos but adding extra wellbeing and connection activities. The change in many of the children’s behaviours was startling.

The relationships the children built with each other were more robust as we had the time and space to listen to each other and they had a lot more freedom of expression. Children who had joined the group very reluctant to speak or share any of their work were able to lead games and storytelling sessions by the time I left. Those who were in the intervention group were recognisably calmer and more able to regulate themselves outside.

I decided I wanted to learn more about this and how to improve my practice so I started a course with The Therapeutic Forest and began to follow the research of Professor Miles Richardson on Nature Connection. This also led me to training as a nature guide and learning about Natural Mindfulness.

During the pandemic it became clear to me that adults, and particularly parents (even more so adoptive parents!) were in just as much need of experiencing these benefits as children. In fact if the parents experienced them they would be more likely to encourage their children to connect with nature.

We all know that we are better parents if we look after our own wellbeing but sometimes life just gets in the way and it seems easier or even necessary to just focus on the children and the never ending to do list. It can seem unattainable to find time to do something we know will help us in the long run but doesn’t necessarily have an immediate effect or tick anything off our list.

Nature connection has been found to reduce blood pressure, muscle tension and stress. Research shows that people who have a connection with nature are more likely to describe themselves as thriving and have the ability to regulate and balance their emotions more easily.

Our connection with nature and relationship with a place becomes deeper and more meaningful if we visit and connect regularly. It allows us to notice the little changes from month to month, season to season and year to year. We become experts in our special space and feel the symbiotic relationship more intensely. You can experience positive feelings from just one interaction with nature but to feel the long lasting rewards of nature connection it needs to be part of your ongoing routine. You don’t need a huge amount of time or any special equipment to start your journey, a really simple first step towards connecting with nature and building a relationship with a space is to find a ‘sit spot’: A space outside or at least with a view of the outside if you really can’t get out. Take a few minutes each week if you can to sit and use all your senses to notice what is going on around you, can you feel the breeze on your face? Is the sun shining? What do the trees look like, are there any flowers blooming? Can you see any wildlife? What can you hear? Take some photos on your phone if you feel like it or jot down some notes in a journal to reflect back on and notice the changes through the weeks and months. It is surprising how quickly you will begin to feel a real affection for your spot and look forward to your visits.

I was inspired to start my business because I knew I needed someone to tell me to look after myself and keep on track of my self care and actually utilise all the strategies and techniques I knew about instead of just collapsing in front of rubbish TV at the end of each day to have ‘me time’ before dragging myself upstairs an hour or so later. So I provide gentle accountability to make it easier to prioritise self care instead of making excuses for ignoring it. I also decided to focus on adopters and prospective adopters because I know most of us have less time to look after ourselves and I would have loved being part of a community like this that is mainly focussed on the parents and doing an enjoyable activity together, allowing social connections to grow naturally.

I have not been able to forget my original passion of working with children and also run Family Forest Fundays in Oxshott, Surrey with Toni from Adoption Chatter for adoptive families to connect with each other while having fun outside.

My website has now launched with a 20% discount on all memberships for the first 20 people who sign up.  https://www.almondblossomnature.co.uk/sign-up-promo-20

You can also find me on:

Instagram @almondblossomnatureconnection

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/almondblossomnatureconnection/

Twitter @almond_nature

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