Using Nature to Manage Bipolar A major part of coping with bipolar is adapting your lifestyle so you can manage the condition effectively, often through medication, therapy and self-management. We’re focusing on another way to manage bipolar; ecotherapy. Ecotherapy means using nature-based activities to improve mental wellbeing, such as gardening and walking outdoors. Framework Housing in Nottingham have launched a scheme called ‘Nature in Mind’, offering ecotherapy to local residents with mental health conditions. Being outdoors as a way of improving mental health has been encouraged for decades with Mind finding that people who did more physical outdoors activities has significant improvements in their mental and physical health. Being outdoors has been shown to release more endorphines leading to less stress, anxiety and anger. ‘Nature in Mind’ brings people together in a group environment, providing an enjoyable and safe place for people to learn new skills and build confidence. Activities range from walking around local parks to gardening on allotments to rock climbing. One participant in the project said, “Before coming to Nature in Mind, I wasn’t going out a lot. Since coming I’ve been feeling more outgoing and confident.” Our Great Yarmouth Support Group was recently visited by a speaker from Clinks Care Farm, a Norfolk farm and social enterprise offering ‘farming on prescription’. GPs can refer people with mental health issues for sessions on the farm and there a number of similar projects around the country. ‘Nature in Mind’ is currently open to Nottingham residents via referral but if you fancy trying ecotherapy, here’s some ideas to get you started: Go walking or cycling in your local park Spend some time in the garden Try growing your own vegetables Volunteer with a local wildlife group Visit a petting, open, or family farm For more information and advice on managing bipolar, take a look at our range of information leaflets.