St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

 Green spaces, gardening & wellbeing – Sunshine and natural daylight   

Mental Health Gardening

This blog is part of a series based on the infographic by Decorative Aggregates. Read the previous posts here.

In this months blog we’ll be looking at how important it is to get outside for natural daylight – even when that’s not always the most appealing at this time of year! In summer it’s easy to get out for a walk because we want to enjoy the sunshine, warmth and light whereas in winter it can be much harder to get motivated when it’s cold, dark and wet.

There is a famous saying that “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” so make sure you wrap up warm and wear a waterproof or take an umbrella with you so you’re prepared. It can be helpful remembering that nature needs a variety of weathers to survive and thrive. Obviously the sunlight is important, but so is the rain. Wind can be important to help transport seeds and some seeds need to have a period of frost to help them to grow. This can help us to see the positives of a rainy day if we know it is ensuring the survival of plants and animals. And also embrace the fact that it would be boring if it was the same all the time!

Often the hardest bit is psyching yourself up to go out but normally when you are outside you can feel the benefits very quickly. And it doesn’t always have to be for long, even just walking for 15-20 minutes can be really beneficial or just taking your tea to drink in the garden can help you to get some fresh air and take some time to notice your surroundings. Doing this throughout the year can be a nice way to see how things change in different seasons – experiencing a variety of weathers, different smells and sounds or noticing what plants or animals are out at different times of year. This time of year is great for noticing the signs of spring that are happening, like snowdrops and daffodils starting to appear or buds on trees starting to grow which can give us something positive to look out for.

Getting outside in winter can also give us the surprising benefit of being able to sleep better. Being outside in natural daylight, especially if we get outside as early in the morning as possible can help to rebalance our sleep cycle. Our circadian rhythm is reset by being outside in the daylight and boosting our serotonin levels, which makes us feel happier and calmer and then when it gets dark our melatonin levels increase, which is responsible for making us feel naturally sleepier.

Hopefully this will inspire you to get outside, however briefly, in your garden or local green space and see if you can feel the benefits from getting some natural light!

This piece was written by Freya Lovett who supports our Bearing Fruit group. If you are interested in joining our Ecotherapy programme you’d be very welcome.


27 January 2021 | Categories: Ecotherapy, Inspiration | Tags: daylight, get outdoors, melatonin, mental health, seratonin