Expert warns that ignoring our mental wellbeing could set an “unhealthy precedent for future generations”
• Expert warns that ignoring our mental wellbeing could set an “unhealthy precedent for future generations”
• Brits spend just 0.5% of their time dedicated to improving mental wellbeing, only four hours per month
• One in four Britons say they don’t know how to improve their mental wellbeing
• One in three people in the UK have never been for a walk amongst nature, yet 92% think getting outdoors is important for mental wellbeing
• Forest Holidays has introduced Forest Bathing to help Brits get back in touch with nature
New research into the nation’s health habits has revealed that Brits choose to spend more than twice as much time and money on activities to improve their physical health compared to their mental wellbeing. This is despite 70% of the UK saying they believe mental and physical wellbeing are as important as one another.
The study by Forest Holidays discovered that, on average, people spend £63.85 and eight hours and 38 minutes of their time each month on physical activities such as training at the gym, cycling and swimming. In contrast, only £29.94 and three hours and 53 minutes were spent each month on activities designed to improve mental wellbeing, such as meditation, life coaching, and going for a walk amongst nature. More than a quarter of Brits (27%) also said they wouldn’t know how to improve their mental wellbeing.
Prioritising bodies over minds
Sara Warber, MD, Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan and Honorary Professor at the University of Exeter Medical School explains why these findings are important:
“Our mental wellbeing should never take second place to our physical health. Humans are complex beings where our physical and mental wellbeing work in tandem to create a healthy whole. If either part isn’t properly looked after, it’s likely that the other will also suffer.
"Due to a greater amount of public health advice around physical activity, there is a cultural acceptance of prioritising physical health over mental wellbeing. There are also visible motivators like the fear of obesity and the improved feelings one gets from being and looking stronger, which don’t exist in the same way for mental wellbeing. Social media is also a strong motivator as it creates a reinforcing community around whatever activities one undertakes and ‘brags’ about.
"Prioritising physical health over mental wellbeing could mean we’re potentially opening ourselves up to bigger health problems in the future, and could set an unhealthy precedent for future generations.”
Connecting with nature
When it comes to key activities that promote positive mental wellbeing, an almost unanimous 92% of the UK agreed that getting outdoors is important for the mind yet, shockingly, one in three people in the UK (32%) admit they have never actually been for a walk in nature.
“For centuries the human race evolved in tune with our natural environment, meaning both our physical and mental wellbeing was entirely intertwined with and dependent on our surroundings. As we have become more and more urbanised we have become increasingly disconnected from the natural world and, instead, spend increasing amounts of our time running indoors on treadmills and paying for the privilege!”
Forest Holidays believe that promoting a closer connection to nature could be the key to helping more people to balance their physical and mental wellbeing. Forest Holidays is leading the way in the UK, as the only holiday company whose team members have undergone extensive training with The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programmes in the ancient Japanese art of shinrin-yoku, or Forest Bathing.
Forest Bathing combines mindfulness techniques with the therapeutic powers of the natural environment to reduce stress and is now one of the cornerstones of Japanese healthcare. It’s a powerful antidote to the pressures of the modern world, proven to deliver lasting benefits to both physical and mental wellbeing and create a profound connection to nature. It is currently little known in the UK, with more than a third of the nation (35%) admitting to not knowing what it is or the benefits it can bring.
Charlie Houlder-Moat, Forest Therapy Guide at Forest Holidays commented:
“Forest Bathing is a natural wellbeing therapy that utilises the healing power of the forest. Just being in a forest can help to reduce anxiety and boost the immune system, but Forest Bathing goes even further to become an immersive experience that can have far-reaching benefits.
"It’s not just a guided walk in the woods because our Forest Bathing experience takes you to a different level of sensory awareness. We guide you to enjoy a Forest Bathing activity that uses mindfulness and meditation techniques to allow you to open your senses to the natural world. The experience can be transformative.
"Our study shows that whilst people understand how important nature is to their wellbeing they don’t understand how to get the most out of this incredible resource. Our aim is to make Forest Bathing an integral part of everyone’s mental wellbeing toolkit.”
Forest Bathing experiences are now available at Blackwood Forest and Thorpe Forest. For further information visit: https://www.forestholidays.co.uk/things-to-do/forest-bathing
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Notes to Editors
Survey conducted by Censuswide in November 2017 – polling 2,000 people aged 16 and above across the UK. Full survey results available upon request.
About Forest Holidays:
Offering guests the chance to enjoy a peaceful getaway surrounded by picturesque British forests, Forest Holidays aim to create positive experiences in Britain’s amazing forests; connecting people, nature and local communities. Forest Holidays is a joint venture, public/private partnership with the Forestry Commission and has a 125-year lease on the land on which sites are based. The cabins are architecturally designed to fit sensitively within the woodland environment with modest central facilities. With nature at the heart of Forest Holidays’ ethos, they provide year-round short breaks and holidays in timber cabins set within 9 locations on the Forestry Commission Estate, operating successfully in National Parks and other sensitive locations.
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