Land Manager's Diary: Read it here>

We had great start to the week on Monday with a very autumnal day in the woods at Gillside, Grasmere, managed in partnership with Friends of the Lake District members Bev and Jo Dennison Drake. It was a veritable feast for the senses, bringing home that each sense is unique and has a really important role to play in our health and well-being. 

Pictured: Autumn colours

So in the context of the wood on Monday, the sound of the beck making music as it rushed down the gill made us feel calm or possibly energised. The sight of the warm autumnal colours and the amazing views gave us a feeling of awe and wonder, and how good it was to be outdoors in such a stunning setting. The touch as we removed tree tubes, the wet from the rain on the soft leaves felt natural... until a tree tubes spiked you or you touched a slimy slug.... And the smells of autumn, the fresh air and soil, mixed with the taste of the work party cake were comforting. All of this perhaps gave us what some call a 'mindful moment', freeing our minds from worry or anxiety, with our senses relaxed rather than being on high alert for some worry or danger.

Pictured: Funghi

Apparently smells are sent to a part of our brains very closely connected to our memory and emotion centres, and so smells are likely to have a more significant effect on our mood than other senses. If we are feeling anxious, touch is a great way to centre us in the moment, and ground us, and a deep pressure is the most effective way to calm us. Sight of course is the first sense we use to understand our environment, eg its colour, size etc. and has an immediate impact on our emotion, especially if we see something we don't like. Sound is a chief communicating sense and can be a great calmer.

Pictured: Final tube stash (Use of plastic tree guards)

We are becoming more aware of the impact that all these senses can have on our mental health, and how important they can be to find peace and calm in the present moment. Just recognising what the triggers are to our senses that they make us feel more calm or relaxed can help in those moments of panic or stress. Of course it comes as no surprise to those of us that love to be outdoors that the natural sounds of our landscape are a natural calmer. We probably don't overthink it, analysing what is happening, but we will know that being outside with nature makes us feel better. So if we ever need a push to get outside, go on, it is doing your mental and physical health the world of good and what better way to do it than join us on a workparty!

Pictured: Cherry autumn colours

Meanwhile, back in the wood where all was calm, we noticed the woods were overflowing with seeds and berries. Trevor from the Grasmere Red Squirrel group pointed out during our walk and talk in August that this year was a good year for food for the red squirrels. So no sightings of our furry friends as they were too busy collecting harvest goodies, maybe next time....

Pictured: Hawthorn seeds