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Walks for Mental Wellbeing

The Benefits of Woodland Walks

Much research has been carried out in to the effect woodland walks have on health and wellbeing. A wander through woodland is a real treat for the senses, with different things to see, hear, smell and touch. 

Rest Your Brain

Spending time among trees gives the cognitive portion of your brain a break from the drain of multi-tasking. When your mind overloads, it can cause attention fatigue, which makes it difficult to focus, but you can help your brain refresh by practising ‘forest meditation’. Notice the sounds, smells, and sights of the woodland. While allowing your inner dialogue to fall silent.

Improve Your Mood

Walking gets the blood flowing and the heart pumping. If you can make it a brisk walk, you will boost endorphins, the feel-good hormones that improve your mood and lower stress, anxiety and depression. Combining that walk with nature is extra rewarding for mental health. Studies show that the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, is lower when walking in nature. Regular exercise in woods or parks has been found to reduce the risk of poor mental health too. The same could not be proved for non-natural settings like gyms.

Improve your Sleep

The effects of exercising in nature last beyond our time outdoors. As well as burning calories with each step, your body will have spent extra energy adjusting to the outside temperature. This will help you to feel more tired and get better rest at night. Being outside in natural light also helps us to better regulate our sleep patterns. When the sun sets, our brains will release the right levels of melatonin to help get a good night’s sleep.

Be More Creative

Research shows that walking in green space can put us into a meditative state. It makes us calm and reflective and helps us pay more attention to our surroundings. In this state, our creativity can flourish, perfect for problem solving or finding a fresh perspective.

Woods and trees are also fantastic sources of inspiration. From music art and DIY, the abundance of colours, textures, shapes, sounds and smells is bound to give you some great ideas.

Forest Bathing

Forest bathing and forest therapy (or shinrin-yoku) broadly means taking in, in all of one’s senses, in the forest atmosphere. Not simply a walk in the woods, it is the conscious and contemplative practice of being immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the forest. Immerse yourself in nature and take in your surroundings through all five senses for better health, happiness, and a sense of calm.

A two-hour forest bath, which can be done alone or in a group, will help you to unplug from technology and slow down. It will bring you into the present moment and de-stress and relax you. There are numerous studies showing that shinrin-yoku has real health benefits.

Dromore Wood

Covering an area of approximately one thousand acres Dromore Wood has all the attributes necessary for the perfect Nature Reserve. These include rivers, lakes, turloughs and callows (meadows that flood during winter), limestone pavement, fen peat, reed and rush beds and vast areas of species-rich woodland. The area comprises perfect habitat for a huge variety of flora and fauna species, including Pine Marten and Red Squirel.

There are 7 marked walks through the woods from 1.5km Rabbit Island Trail to 6km Loop Trail.

Ballygriffy Wood

Choose between Ballygriffy North & Ballygriffy South both offering a magical place to walk along unspoiled trails. Paricularly beautiful in Spring when the bluebells and snowdrops are out.  

Ballybeg Wood

On the edge of Ennis, Ballybeg Woods, is beautiful for a short stroll with some challenging inclines.