National Walking Month meets Mental Health Awareness Week.

What better way to bring balance back into your life than to head out into the countryside?

After a busy, chaotic stressful day as Editor of CJS I clear my head and lower the cortisol levels by putting on my walking boots and picking up the dog leads, if it's late or winter possibly a torch too! Not so I can see where I'm going but to make us visible to people in cars as we head off into the darkness.  

We're fortunate that we're surrounded by the wonderful North York Moors the nearest moor is literally a five minute walk from my front door; a ramble across the heather has been my favoured form of stress-relief for as long as I can remember.  When, for whatever reason, I've not been able to get out for a while I know my temper shortens, my spoons get fewer and smaller and just ordinary day-to-day stuff gets even more difficult with an impending meltdown never far away, if I've gone very quiet it's time to leave me alone for a while! As soon as I feel the peat under my feet, smell the heather, hear the pipits and feel the nudge of a wet canine nose under my hand the rest of the world fades away and I can focus on the feeling of the wind or sun on my skin and just breathe once again.  I have two favourite escape points, both are less than a mile from the middle of the village but are sheltered by the landscape leaving the noise of the human world far behind. Although in winter or very late on a summer evening in the dark a bench in the churchyard serves the same purpose, not quite as quiet but there are other attractions, the bats flitting around the church tower (not a belfry unfortunately!), the squirrels chasing around the old yew trees, house martins nesting under the eaves and a peaceful stillness allowing the calm to filter back in and the cares of the world to slip away like an old skin.  A surprising number of problems have been unconsciously solved in or on the way to any one of these three places - including lots of new CJS features!

I'm not alone in finding greenspace a boon to my mental status. The lead article in our Focus on Overcoming Barriers last autumn was titled Nature–based interventions for mental health and wellbeing written by Jane Houghton and Sarah Preston of Natural England on behalf of the Outdoor Recreation Network. Read it here.

More about National Walking Month here and Mental Health Awareness Week here.