With lockdown measures gradually lifting, there has never been a more important time to look after our mental wellbeing. Being outdoors and in nature is known to help alleviate stress and Belinda Blake, a nutritional therapist who trained at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition recommends foraging as the perfect hobby and antidote to stress.
Motivated to study nutrition in response to her own health problems, Belinda has become a keen forager and greatly believes in the power of natural immunity to re-balance and re-focus mind and body. She believes there are many benefits to foraging for our mental health and wellbeing:
- A calming influence – Simply being outdoors in the sun and fresh air calms down our stress response. After so much time living in our own heads and indoor spaces, foraging is an incredibly grounding and calming hobby.
- Natural aromatherapy – Nature provides its own aromatherapy with the phytoncides (essential oils) produced by evergreen trees and the oak which has been shown to decrease stress hormones and increase NK cells, which are crucial for immune support.
- Positive vibes – Foraging helps to engage more with the environment and seasons and at this time of year, and helps to invoke feelings of hope and renewal as we head towards the warmer, summer months ahead.
- Nature’s pantry – Foraging provides access to really fresh (and free!) food, which is full of nutrients and vitality to help support both immune and mental health.
If you’re new to foraging and not sure what to look out for, Belinda has six top recommendations for May:
- Garlic Mustard
- Ransoms (wild garlic)
- Elderflower (late May)
Belinda says, “May is a beautiful time of year to forage. It is a time filled with hope and expectancy and this year more than ever, we will all feel the benefits of being out in the great outdoors and feeling the positive benefits of nature and foraging on our health and wellbeing. why not see if there are any foraging classes near where you live or, alternatively, invest in a good wild plant identification guide to help get you going and pick safely?”