In my research into emotional wellbeing in parents of disabled children (parent carers) a number of factors were found to be important. Connecting with positive other people and empowering, and finding time for, yourself were key.

Unfortunately, when the pandemic struck much of this was shaken; in fact, many families with a disabled child saw their already limited support disappear overnight. So finding simple ways to maintain their emotional wellbeing has been even more vital.

Being out in nature along with practising mindfulness are simple, accessible strategies parents report as useful. And the benefits of the natural health service are clear to see.

A recent study suggested that even a small space, such as a small front garden or potted plants can have the same effect. They found that having plants in previously bare front gardens resulted in a 6% drop in peoples’ perceived stress levels over a year. Which, the researchers state, is the equivalent to the long-term impact of eight weekly mindfulness sessions. You can read the full report on

This may be particularly important for those families who are still shielding, either because of risks to their, or their child’s, health. Listening to birdsong or seeing nature through your window can also boost wellbeing.

The mental health charity, Mind, recommends collecting natural materials, such as leaves, flowers, feathers, tree bark or seeds and using them to decorate your living space or in art projects.

Being out as a family also has benefits for children so whether parents seek out nature on their own or with their children it can be a great stress-buster. We have to look up and around; it forces us to take a break from screens.

The awe that nature can inspire entails a sense of vastness and seeing the cycle of the seasons is reassuring – the world is still turning. Nature can make you feel part of something bigger than yourself and takes you out of your everyday world. Wonder can bring a gratitude for these things and enhance pleasure in our life.

Mental Health Awareness Week encourages us to acknowledge the power nature has to help us re-set, heal and engage in something larger that ourselves. We’ve all witnessed this during the pandemic. We need to look after nature, the way it looks after us.