The mood boosting wetlands that can turn even a bad day into a good day

Harune attended a Blue Prescribing workshop at London Wetland Centre in 2022. Harune experiences anxiety and depression and signed up to the course as a way of improving his mental health. He says it’s one of the best things he’s ever done.

What made you choose to come on the Blue Prescribing workshop?

My mental health isn’t the best - I’ve suffered from depression all my life. I just needed something to do, a reason to get out of the house. During bad periods, I can be in my room 24/7.

How has the workshop helped you?

When you’re having a bad day and you’re struggling to even get out of bed, you can look forward to the workshop and being out in nature and it’s very calming. It can change your mood instantly. It can give me the motivation to get out of bed.

What for you is special about spending time near water?

During lockdown I had already discovered the joy of spending time in nature, taking my daily hour’s exercise walking in a nature reserve near to where I live near Hounslow Heath. But it’s being around water I like the best, hearing the sounds, watching the different kinds of birds and animals. It’s just somewhere I think a lot of people find peace. It’s very therapeutic.

Harune standing on a boardwalk bridge, looking over the water

What sort of activities did you do during the workshop at London Wetland Centre?

One of the best bits about the course was just walking around the site together with the other participants. We’d all had poor mental health at one time or another and it was good to be able to connect over our shared experiences, to have some banter and specially to laugh together. The friendships I made have been really valuable. I also got to use binoculars and go into a hide to look at the birds. We also learnt how to use nature to get grounded, for example just standing on the ground in your bare feet or hugging a tree. We wrote poems together and even went pond dipping.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt on the programme?

I think it would be to embrace other people, to listen to their opinions and get to know what they’ve gone through and what’s helped them. It’s been lovely to meet different people and to feel like I can be completely myself. I don’t need to try and fit in here, I am in!

What are your favourite parts of London Wetland Centre?

I love doing the Wild Walk. It brings out the kid in me and makes me happy. It’s a walk where you have to keep your balance which is great fun and really makes you concentrate. It also helps clear the head and the walking helps relax you.

Harune walking along a wooden balance beam that's part of the Wild Walk at London Wetland Centre

How has the Blue Prescribing course helped your mental health?

Coming to London Wetland Centre is just absolutely beautiful and incredible. I didn’t think I was going to make friends, but you do and it’s really powerful. Nature brings strangers together. And now even when I’ve finished the course, I know that I’ve still got a place where I can go and just be myself, take my time, sit down, draw, paint, do whatever I need to do. And if I do need to talk to someone, if I’m having a bad day, they’ll always find time for me, to help and support me.

Harune sitting on a big boulder

What have you taken away from the Blue Prescribing course?

I now try and get myself out of the house every day if possible, and spend some time in nature, either at a local nature reserve or a local green space.

What would you say to someone considering trying Blue Prescribing?

Just give it a go. There’s no harm in turning up for one day. You don’t have to turn up on any of the other days, you’re not being forced. Just try it once. Then don’t stop. Just come, Get out of your house. Do it.

If you're looking for support with your mental health we are currently offering our Blue Prescribing programmes at our wetland sites at WWT London and WWT Steart.

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