Take notice – captured

Our Bristol Wellbeing College run informative courses and workshops for learners receiving support from Bristol Mental Health Services, and their carers. On the blog today, tutor Nina and two of our learners share with us their thoughts from a recent online ‘Take Notice’ course. These sessions were part of a series ‘Maintaining Wellbeing’, designed to help people cope through the difficulties of lockdown. All three contributions turn to nature for inspiration. Reading through them as a collection, they bring to mind a title by William Wordsworth, published over two hundred years ago: ‘The Excursion: Wisdom is oftentimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar.’  The power of excursion, of taking yourself out of your indoor or urban environment, never grows old for the human imagination. Whatever age we live in, when we lower ourselves from the carousel of busy life, we see the little things and when we take notice of the little things, we capture the bigger picture. When we capture the bigger picture, what once seemed insurmountable or obstructive in life shrinks to manageable proportions.

Nina, Wellbeing Tutor

I haven’t always had fond memories of this place but since having to adapt to lockdown and the restrictions it has become my sanctuary. 

Most days I take my walk here, it’s a place that lifts my spirit when I feel low and helps me connect with the world around me.  I have watched the fields and wildlife change from late march through to the June summer, fields full of dandelions and tall grass and trees waving in the wind welcoming me back.

The lambs bleat and blackbirds sing. The buzzard’s cycle up high chased by crows cawing, Rabbit’s hop down holes and cows chew the cud.

The smell of wild garlic catches the air, filtering through my nostrils, I can almost taste it.  I breathe in and feel a sense of calm flow through me. The gravel crunches with every foot fall as I reach the gate and emerge into the open fields, here I feel free, there are no restrictions just openness. I sit for a while, closing my eyes, the sound of life intensifies; insects occupy the airspace, buzzing passed me, carrying on as normal.

I can feel the energy of life, I touch the grass beside me, it feels crunchy, dried by the sun; the light changes as the sun appears from behind a cloud and warms my face. I open my eyes and take in the colour and shapes that surround me; another deep breath and I walk, feeling the fog and greyness within start to move and release into the atmosphere.  My heart feels lighter, my steps stronger, and my awareness wider. I am connected again.   

Sharon, Wellbeing College Learner

Following an online session on Taking Notice, I’ve made an extra effort to do this on my walks. It is amazing what you notice when you actively look. A few things I’ve noticed: the different things that grow in walls, the buttercups are numerous and tall, the patterns the grass makes as the wind blows through it. 

Becky, Wellbeing College Leaner

I found that during this government lockdown, my mental health was deteriorating rapidly.   I was staying in my pyjamas and not bothering about my appearance.  I knew this couldn’t carry on as my mental health and diet were becoming out of control.  So I decided one day that no more. I got myself dressed, washed and took my dog for a walk in the lovely sunshine.  As I was walking I began to notice all the wildlife around me, the breeze on my face.  It was such a calming experience.

So this has put me on a challenge. For one month I’m going out every day, taking notice of all the wildlife I see and marking them on my calendar.  At the end of the month I can see how much I’ve spotted along my walk.

Since getting out every day I’ve felt a lot better in myself and I’ve noticed I don’t feel so lonely. During this lockdown it’s so easy to just not doing anything, but I can honestly say I feel I have mental health under control and I look forward to my walks each day.

For exercises and ideas on Taking Notice, you can view our Take Notice video below

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