Well-being in the Outdoors Training Day

In today’s 24/7 tech-laden society, many people find it difficult to switch off from the demands of work, home and life.  This extends to our young people,  who are also facing increasing pressures,  not only from school and peers but from the unrealistic and unattainable images on social media. All of these factors are contributing to one of the biggest mental health crises the UK has ever experienced. With services struggling to cope and ever-increasing demand on already stretched resources, it is increasingly recognised that nature and the outdoors can play a part in helping adults and children to relax, reset and reframe, allowing individuals the space and time to destress away from everyday stresses and promote a sense of wellbeing.  

Go Explore Learn is passionate about the mental health of young and old alike and has developed training to help facilitators introduce simple practices into their everyday delivery to enhance wellbeing.

The training, a mix of practical and theory, firstly examined reasons for incorporating wellbeing into the curriculum, and how policy and good practice can support this. We also looked at how to engage learners in activities and practices to promote wellbeing and mindfulness and identified the barriers often felt when taking people outdoors. These include the perception and dealing with risk, legal and ethical considerations and liability and insurance.  The training also examined how the outdoors can help us to connect to the wider world and why this is important in helping to foster and educate future generations to become custodians of the planet.  

mindful tree mediation

A local woodland provided the setting for the group to practice some simple woodland meditations.   One activity, the ‘Fox walk’ is a great way to get children and adults engaged in the natural environment around them.  Participants learnt a range of breathing techniques, including ‘measured breathing’ which promotes a feeling of calm and relaxation and gives a starting point to use the senses to feel, taste, see, hear and touch the world around.

The woodland is a wonderful place to practice mindfulness either by sitting and admiring the glorious array of sensory stimuli or by using activities to reach a state of the flow of being in the moment. ‘Forest Bathing’ an English translation of the Japanese phrase shinrin-yoku, which is a medicinal practice in Japan that goes back to the 1980s when the government began to notice the adverse effects of the tech boom on city dwellers, such as depression, distraction and aches and pains. The concept is very simple; it invites you to spend quiet, mindful time in nature to improve your wellbeing.

Taking inspiration from the local woodland area.
Wet felting can be done as a mindful crafting activity.

Lunch was enjoyed around an open fire, where we demonstrated fire safety tips for those working in an educational or community setting.  Using fire craft in a session can create a fantastic focal point that brings people together and provides a place to talk, discuss and connect.

The group had a change of habitat during the afternoon; the beach provided a fantastic opportunity to collect natural treasures and decorate willow weaving frames they had made in the classroom.    Again, guided breathing techniques were used to ground everyone and help focus their senses on the environment, allowing each person to be fully present in the moment.  Groups member produced some outstanding and creative pieces of work and shared their thoughts and feelings in a reflection circle, exploring what they felt, experienced, and witnessed.  

A creative mindful sea felt scape
Mindful breathing at the beach

Everyone agreed that they had managed to  ‘switch off from their thoughts and distractions around them, allowing their creativity and imagination to direct their crafting, producing some stunning results, all individual and different.       

If you would like to arrange a training day in your school, organization or business, please contact us for information on 07779396651. Go Explore Learn can also deliver Mindfulness in the Outdoor Workshops, using your outdoor space to create a place of calm and reflection.