• Tom Robinson

How helping butterflies can have a positive effect on mental well-being

I am having to revert to writing about mental health/well-being today because discussing some of the contentious issues that surround mental illness has exhausted me this week, and I need a break from it for my own mental health.


I am finding that covering these tragic stories is affecting me so personally because it’s often just so close to home. Yesterday’s post which featured the story of Rebecca Marshall was especially upsetting for me because her experience paralleled mine in so many ways.


I am continually wondering how the hell I am still alive because when I read these stories, I realise that what I’ve endured and experienced isn’t really survivable.


But the fact that I am still here makes me so determined to share my story in an attempt to help and (hopefully) save others, so I will just continue to tap away on my laptop until I’ve documented everything.


Anyway… back to today’s uncontentious post!


I saw a nice article on the BBC Newsround page a few days ago which mentioned the fact that helping butterflies and moths can help to promote better mental health.


Unfortunately, the article didn’t really explain why it is that helping butterflies is so beneficial, but I did find a few ideas from other sources so that I could offer a few thoughts today.


I was sad to read that 76% of the UK’s butterfly species have declined over the last 40 years due to the destruction and deterioration of environments and habitats.


With the likes of HS2 which is currently ploughing its way through rural Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, this doesn’t really surprise me, but it’s awful to think of the impact that man is having on the planet, particularly when you read the facts and figures of depleting wildlife.


With so much of the countryside being swallowed up with buildings, roads and railways it’s important to do what we can to help butterfly species and others survive.


The article suggests that we can make a difference by planting flowers in gardens or herb seedlings in window boxes to give them more sources of nectar to feed on.


I mentioned the positive effects of being around flowers in a recent post, so by planting them to help butterflies, mental health/well-being can be boosted even further.


There is definitely something about being in open countryside that helps to quieten the mind, and studies show that even small amounts of time spent in nature can reduce stress and make people happier.


There is also a positive gain to be reaped from studying the minutiae of life which so often goes unnoticed in the hectic and fast paced world that we now live in.


When you stop and appreciate the small buds on trees or watch tiny insects crawling up a tree, the stress and worry seems to evaporate, (if only temporarily) to allow for a moment of contemplation and relaxation.


Nurturing helps the mind too and the feeling of helping the environment and supporting wildlife can really help to boost mood and give a feeling of satisfaction.


In the article Dr Amir Khan who is the U.K's Butterfly Conservation ambassador said:

“As we head into spring again, we must remember how increased connectedness with nature helped us through the warmer months of last year. The promise of spring has been with us during the winter months and now it’s back there’s plenty we can do to feel inspired and part of the wildlife around us.”

This is the first spring that I can remember that I have been well enough to appreciate the change in season, so I am making the most of it by walking in the woods and hills daily for my mental well-being.


Now that I have rediscovered my old passions, I am keen to find some new ones too, especially if they involve being outside. The first thing I’m going to do this spring and summer is to be more mindful of nature and keep an eye out for butterflies to see what different species I can discover.


Spring always represents hope through the regeneration that is demonstrated by plants, buds and flowers that come back to life as the cycle starts all over again.


Nature seems to be mirroring the current situation this year, since both are finally opening up at the same time, and I really hope that we can now start to slowly move forward in a more positive direction!


If you would like to read the article on the BBC Newsround page then you can find it here.


I have also added a guide to which flowers and plants can help butterflies, which I found on the Gardeners’ World website and that can be found here.


Thanks for reading,


Speak to you soon,

TR

www.dyingtostayalive.com


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