How to Connect With Nature to Boost Your Mental Health During Autumn and Winter

As the days grow colder and the nights draw in, there’s a tendency to retreat indoors and disconnect from nature until the first buds of spring begin to bloom. 

The physical, mental and spiritual benefits of engaging with nature, whatever the season, are well documented. A recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that 70% of UK adults say that being close to green spaces improves their mood. 

So wrap up warm, search the shoe rack for your lost welly boot and make a concerted effort to embrace all that nature has to offer during the colder months. We’ve devised ten diverse ways to connect with nature to boost your mental health during autumn and winter. Enjoy!


A woodland flatlay featuring acorns, pine cones and leaves.

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Use natural resources in your arts and crafts

Autumn and winter turn the aesthetic qualities of the natural world up a notch, from hedges ripe with plump berries to forest floors boasting leaves of all different colours. Why not capture the beauty of the colder seasons through a creative project?! Think about what this time of year means in terms of images, traditions, thoughts and feelings. 

If you like art, you could create classic textured bark rubbings with a crayon or sketch an autumnal scene as it unfolds in front of you. 

If writing is more your thing, you could write a sensory poem by noting down all of the things you can hear, see, touch and taste as you wander. You could even use natural symbolism to explore how you’re currently feeling. 

You don’t need to see yourself as ‘creative’ to make something spectacular. Make a seasonal collage from things you’ve found on your walk – leaves, feathers, fallen conkers – and lay it all out neatly for a photograph. Check out #natureflatlays for some stunning examples. 


A basket filled with foraged wild mushrooms.

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Enjoy a guided walk or go foraging

In July 2020, the Environment Secretary announced a £4 million investment addressing mental ill-health through green social prescribing. Green social prescribing links people to nature-based activities to reduce health inequalities and improve mental health outcomes. 

Guided walks can be an excellent nature-based activity because they encourage you to enjoy the fresh air whilst learning more about the natural world around you. Search for guided walks in your local area to find out how you can best support your local ecosystem and enjoy the benefits of the outdoors. The Quantocks Partnership Scheme offer walks across the Quantocks, and their website also showcases other organisations that may be of interest.

If you’re interested in food or the wilder side of life, why not go foraging? If you’re new to sustainable foraging, book a guided trip with a professional so you can learn best practices and which species to avoid! The Woodland Trust have some responsible foraging guidelines to help you forage sustainably, lawfully and safely. They also have helpful advice on what to look out for each month, so you know what nuts, berries and edible wild plants are out there! 

Alternatively, you could go blackberry or apple picking in your community. 

Nourish your body by making warm, comforting dishes with your findings, from hearty soups to sweet syrups. 

A window seat with cushions and a beautiful cottage window looking out at greenery.

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Bring nature to you 

You might need to bring nature to you, so you can prioritise your wellbeing, make the experience more accessible, or have adequate time to enjoy it. 

Sometimes reconnecting with nature is as simple as allowing natural airflow into your home by opening a window. You could also add a couple of indoor plants to your home to help reduce stress levels and improve your mood. 

If the view from your window isn’t particularly inspiring or you aren’t able to look out, you could ask friends, family or your online community to describe what they can see out of their window or ask them to send you photographs of the view. 

WindowSwap is a website that allows you to see the world from other people’s windows. From a sandy Arizonan suburb to a leafy, parkside apartment in Nanjing, you can open a new window somewhere in the world and marvel at the biodiversity.

Alternatively, head to Youtube and search for ‘ambience’ videos that transport you to different places. From the cosy comfort of a lakeside porch to the soothing sounds of forest snowfall, there are plenty of ASMR-friendly videos full of sweet nature sounds to inspire the senses. Close your eyes and imagine you’re there. What can you feel? What can you hear? What can you smell? What can you touch?

Live webcams and wildlife documentaries are also excellent ways to reconnect when you aren’t able to be amongst nature. 


A ceremony for the restoration of Cothelstone Well in Somerset.

Research local projects to support 

Doing your bit to protect the environment can be restorative, whether that’s by litter picking, offering support to community projects, or joining a volunteer conservation programme. 

Look out for volunteer opportunities like the Seed of Hope community gardening project that helps people with mental health issues through therapeutic gardening for individuals who can’t tend to their outdoor spaces. 

As part of our corporate social responsibility, we were keen to create a place of wellbeing that people could visit when they felt called to nature. A few years ago, we restored St Agnes Well near Cothelstone to its former glory with support from local volunteers. It’s a project that remains very dear to us here at New Leaf. 

Check out this video all about how we restored our well of wellbeing.

An infographic about how to make an insect hotel.

Nurture local wildlife 

Caring for animals is therapeutic and a great way to help the environment! 

The Wildlife Trust have some excellent advice for how to help wildlife at home, from how to build a hedgehog home to how to make a woodland edge garden for wildlife

RSPB also have advice for autumn-friendly activities for children and big kids, like how to create a pine cone bird feeder and how to enjoy an indoor nature scavenger hunt

A picnic basket with a book on top and a blanket peeking out in an apple orchard.

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Head outdoors with your hobby

Taking your hobby outdoors could help boost your wellbeing.

Wrap up warm and take a good book to the park or head to a local beauty spot and set up a painting station. Find a bench and do some al fresco knitting or enjoy an outdoor exercise class. You could even cook comfort food dishes at home and enjoy them with friends over a cosy woodland picnic. 

If your hobbies aren’t particularly outdoor-friendly, you could take up a new one – like geocaching or beach-combing – or call a friend who shares the same hobby as you and discuss it whilst you enjoy a leisurely stroll. 


Foraged mushrooms in a flatlay.

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Document the changing seasons

Seasonal changes can often creep up on us. 

Embrace the turning of the leaves by documenting the changing seasons in your neighbourhood. Journal what you can hear, smell, see and touch. Listen to the crunch of leaves underfoot, watch golden hour descend over the houses, and smell the sweet autumnal spices from nearby coffee shops. 

You could turn it into a project and take photographs to mark the changes that you witness. You could then share these photographs in online groups or send them to friends and family and encourage them to take up the project in their community too. 

Wildlife Watch have some printable activities to encourage the whole family to connect with nature, from autumn leaf spotters for budding tree detectives to fungi identification charts for beady-eyed fun guys! 

If you don’t have access to a printer, you could look at them on your phone or get your little ones to draw the different things they’re hoping to spot! 

Shoes in autumnal leaves.

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Help make nature more accessible

Supporting others and finding creative solutions to problems can work wonders for our mental wellbeing. If you’re a problem solver, why not use your skills to help make nature more accessible and inclusive to all?! 

We all have a right to access green spaces but some groups – low-income families, ethnic minorities, disabled people, and women – may feel excluded, whether that’s due to access, safety or fear of judgement. 

In their study, Natural England revealed that just 26.2% of black people surveyed spent time in nature compared to 44.2% of white people. Interestingly, a 2005 diversity study commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs highlighted that BAME individuals had negative perceptions of green spaces as a social environment, despite finding the natural environment of value. They reported that they often felt excluded or singled out whilst navigating traditionally ‘white, English’ spaces. 

So, how can you help to make nature more inclusive?

Elevate the voices of those who have been campaigning for change. Find a cause you’re passionate about, donate your time and skills to help raise awareness and address your concerns with your local council. 

You could create a community garden or take care of natural areas in urban settings so more people can access green spaces. Or, you could help make outdoor spaces more accessible by providing relevant accessibility information online for local natural attractions. 

If you work closely with outdoor spaces, you could make your marketing materials more inclusive or plan cultural events to encourage new visitors. 

Pretty pastel flowers.

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Create a moon garden to enjoy nature at night 

Moon gardens are typically outdoor spaces designed to come alive by the light of the moon, filled with fragrant flowers and foliage that reflect the moonlight and nourish nocturnal pollinators. 

As darkness falls and dappled moonlight descends, moon gardens offer a sense of tranquillity to all who stop by thanks to the soothing sights, scents and sounds. Creating a welcoming space whatever the hour ensures that even the busiest people have the opportunity to breathe in the cool air, make space for their thoughts and relax amongst nature. 

You can read our blog post all about how to create a moon garden for our top tips. 

If you don’t have a garden or space for a window box, late-night stargazing is a great way to decompress after a long day, and you don’t necessarily need to leave your four walls to do it! 



There are many ways we can connect with nature to benefit our mental wellbeing and nurture our relationship with local ecosystems. How do you like to connect with nature during autumn and winter?

Here at New Leaf, we are passionate about growing in harmony with the world around us and raising awareness of the fight against climate change. You can delve into the archives and read some of our green blog posts, from how to create a butterfly garden to how to green your office space

Enjoyed this post and learned something new? Share it via social media! 

Are you keen to discover how New Leaf Workplace Wellbeing can help you act upon your corporate social responsibility and uphold your green values? Email Becky at [email protected] for more information.

This post was written in collaboration with Bee Higgins, the copywriter and content writer behind Vivatramp Creatives.

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