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An image of Judith - Valleys Steps Wellbeing Practitioner

Lets take a walk

A Breath of Fresh Air

I don?t know about you, but I always feel better after some time spent outdoors, taking a walk along the beach or sitting under a tree perhaps. The conditions don?t have to be perfect, as long as I bear in mind the old saying about there being no such thing as bad weather, simply unsuitable clothing.? The Danish and Norwegians know this, with their concept of hygge ? defined as ?a mood of cosiness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment? ? containing within it the encouragement to wrap up warm and get outside.

To this end, Valleys Steps is currently working in partnership with Coed Lleol ? the Welsh branch of the national Small Woods scheme ? to deliver outdoor wellbeing sessions.? Consequently, Tuesday mornings at present see me joining a small, socially-distanced group of like-minded people in a local woodland.? Taking time out in these Covid-restricted and often worrying times is to be recommended. I can think of few better ways to do this than pausing to strip bark from a hazel twig, learning how to transform this into charcoal on a roaring fire and using the resultant product to sketch one of the many surrounding trees.? All of which are activities that took place in a recent session I attended.

If you are familiar with the Five Ways to Wellbeing, then joining with others to take part in relaxing activities outdoors could be said to encompass all aspects.? These woodland wellbeing workshops provide the opportunity to connect, taking place as they do outside, in a Covid-secure manner, and allowing for the generation of the kind of spontaneous conversations that many of us have been missing.? A brisk walk from the carpark to the clearing in which the session takes place means being active, as do the small, repetitive movements involved in stripping bark or sketching.? Pausing to take notice happens almost organically when spending time in a space such as this.? A person my find themselves becoming aware of the texture and scent of the wood, the bright warmth of the fire and taste of the tea, having senses heightened to the rustling of the leaves and call of the birds. There is also the opportunity to learn, finding out more about skills such as charcoal making and fire lighting. The resultant charcoal sketch could even be turned into a greetings card, for example, thus enabling giving. If creative confidence does not extend that far, however, simply spending time listening to another participant or helping to make the tea are also acts of generosity.

If you like the sound of this and would like to see the benefit to your health and wellbeing of gathering around a fire, chatting and learning new skills in a woodland clearing, then you are welcome to come along. Please get in touch with me on judith.parry@valleyssteps.org? or contact Anna at Coed Lleol on annastickland@smallwoods.org.uk or 07765 213514 for more information and to book.? We hope to see you soon.

Judith Parry recently joined the Valleys Steps team, having worked in the field of mental health for approximately 15 years.? She has experience of setting up and running a community allotment project and a keen interest in the links between outdoor activity and emotional wellbeing.

By Judith Parry

Wellbeing Practitioner