It’s all too easy to get bogged down with the day to day aspects of life and all the duties, distractions and responsibilities it entails… we all live in a very busy world and we all face our own stressors within our working lives and personal lives. Now we mustn’t downplay the role of stress, it’s an integral part of our survival mechanism and serves a purpose in spurring action in a crisis or life threatening situation. Stress is, however, a double edged sword, and too much stress can have a negative impact on our wellbeing.

Maintaining our mental wellbeing is equally as important as maintaining our physical wellbeing and what this comes down to is creating balance…it is essentially about taking time for you.

The North York Moors are currently running their #TimeForYou campaign and as part of their campaign they invited me to visit the National Park and heritage coastline. Our accommodation was provided by Baytown Holiday Cottages where we stayed in the coastal village of Robin Hood’s Bay in a charming character-filled cottage tucked away in a myriad of narrow cobbled streets; the village has a rich history and was once the smuggling hub of the east coast.

With vast expanses of open moorland, high rugged cliffs and sandy beaches, the North York Moors gives you the sense of space and freedom that we cannot find in busy towns and cities.

During our stay we visited Runswick Bay and spend the afternoon on a fossil forage with Peter McGrath from Barefoot Fossil Walks. Peter is incredibly knowledgeable about the local area, the Jurassic coast and the fossils to be found there. During our fossil forage we found ammonites, belemnites, fossilised coral and fossilised poop! We learned a lot about the creatures from the Jurassic period, how they became fossilised and importantly… how to find them!

Ammonite fossil from Runswick Bay

Fossil foraging along the Jurassic coast of the North YorkMoors was incredibly enjoyable; learning to train your eyes to small details in the rocks as you traverse the shores has a specific calming effect achieved through the practice of mindfulness, a welcome by-product of this activity. Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you're seeing, sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment, best practiced outside in nature.

Being in nature has long been associated with being mindful and meditative, but only recently are researchers beginning to show the mental health benefits of outdoor immersion. We now know that spending just 20 minutes outside a day canboost our energy levels. Exposure to nature improves our mental wellbeing, reduces rumination and promotes mindfulness.

5 million years of existing within our natural environment was changed dramatically with the development of the industrial revolution. It has been shown that repeated exposure to artificial lights, chemicals, air and electromagnetic pollution and white noise is thought to be linked to increasing levels of stress. So what better way to combat this stress than to strip it all back and get back to the great outdoors?

When you're ready to escape to nature, you can count on the North York Moors National Park for inspiration.


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