“Dod yn ôl at fy nghoed”: To return to my trees

A picture of a forest

The Welsh proverb, “dod yn ôl at fy nghoed” literally translates as, “to return to my trees”, and means, “to return to a balanced state of mind”. This proverb speaks to me on a number of levels. My local woods have become my sanctuary over the past few years. I go there at least once a week for a walk and to process what has been going on. Nothing is expected of me while I’m there, and I find myself slowly relaxing and returning to my senses. My trees have become the mirror and healer for my busy mind.

As a senior lecturer and researcher in public health and wellbeing, this proverb also speaks to me as I know very well from the literature that engagement with nature and green space is good for physical, mental and social health and wellbeing. I’m really glad to see that there is a growing infrastructure for healthcare professionals to refer their patients and clients to nature-based interventions to improve their health and wellbeing. For a number of years now the Welsh government have been investing in social prescribing, with the National Framework launched in 2023, which will continue to harness the power of nature and green space, as well as other natural and community assets, for better health and wellbeing. 

A final way in which this proverb speaks to me is in the idea of ‘retuning to mental balance’. In my opinion, the way we as a human species are currently living our lives is out of balance; our way of life has become too focused on individual self-interest and we are taking more than our fair share of the earth’s precious resources. This is deepening social inequalities, causing environmental destruction and climate change and, ultimately, leading to the physical, mental and social ill-health of people around the world. How can we find mental balance amidst all of this? It seems to me that connecting with, and caring for, the natural environment on which we are dependent is an important step. 

These are topics that form a part of the MSc Health, Mental Health and Wellbeing programme at Wrexham University that I lead. We explore the contemporary and future issues impacting upon people’s health, mental health and wellbeing, how to make sense of human beings and change behaviour, as well as strategies for catalysing change at individual, community and national levels for a happier and healthier future for all, as well as much, much more!

You can find out more about the programme here.

You can book onto a workshop about the programme via our Subject Events page