Wellbeing & Nature

Wellbeing and nature background left
Wellbeing and nature background right

ESR firmly believes in the transformative value of good health and wellbeing. Supporting people to support themselves in improving their health and wellbeing is fundamental to everything we do, is embedded in our culture, and is enshrined in our vision for people and communities to have the opportunities to make positive, healthy, and life-enhancing decisions about their future.

The concept of wellbeing comprises two main elements: feeling good and functioning well. Feelings of happiness, contentment, enjoyment, curiosity and engagement are characteristic of someone who has a positive experience of their life. Equally important for wellbeing is our functioning in the world. Experiencing positive relationships, having some control over one’s life and having a sense of purpose are all important attributes of wellbeing.

The first study in the UK to measure wellbeing estimated that only 14% of the population has a high level of wellbeing, referred to as ‘flourishing’. A further 14% have very low wellbeing, notwithstanding individuals with a diagnosed mental disorder. A whole range of factors determines an individual’s level of personal wellbeing but evidence indicates that the things we do and the way we think can have the greatest impact.

The centre for wellbeing at the New Economics Foundation has developed ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’: a set of evidence-based actions to improve personal wellbeing and recommends building the following five actions into our day-to-day lives and we believe that ESR significantly contributes in all areas:

Connect: connect with the people around you, with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours, at home, work, school or in your local community.

Take Notice: be curious. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.

Keep Learning: try something new. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as have fun.

Give: do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

Be Active: go for a walk or run, step outside, cycle, play a game, garden, or dance. Exercising makes you feel good.

Our Equine Facilitated Learning and Development is a non-ridden session, with the aim to develop confidence, communication skills, and improve happiness and self-awareness. It provides an opportunity to break down barriers and encourage individuals to explore their goals and make plans. These sessions are tailored and adapted to all ages and with options for individual life coaching and goal setting, couples communications, family fun and connection and staff training.

Life coaching and goal setting work on allowing the individual to become supported and coached to set smart goals and plans to address personal challenges and make positive progress. This can include referrals to holistic and allied health services. It can also provide opportunities for further learning and skills development that will support the individual to improve confidence and achieve and empower with a sense of purpose and achievement whilst reducing anxiety and depression.

For the corporate market, this can form part of a training day looking at a range of skills such as team building, leadership, imposter syndrome, compassion fatigue, and becoming trauma informed, as well as providing an open scenic space away from the office.

We also work with our trauma counsellor who can offer regular sessional support for more complex cases, with experience with multiple complex traumas.

Sessions are one 1-hour minimum and can also be run as half or full-day events and can tie in other activities including yoga, crafts, bushcraft skills and more. No prior horse experience is required as this is all non-ridden.

Clients who typically come to us with severe self-esteem issues, a product of the difficult challenges they face, and of the way their lives have evolved as consequence: giving up on school, unemployment, emotional withdrawal, etc. Interacting with and being present with the horses takes the individual to another place, away from the feelings of judgement and stigma. The effects can be transformational in enabling them to take control of their lives. Our goal is to enable the individual to recognise their own skills and talents.

We use that to work with the individual. We listen, find ways to communicate, identify their learning style, and tailor the approach. We combine horse-centred activities with open dialogue to help each individual develop self-awareness, and identify their own gifts and desires.

It works: our individuals grow in confidence and take on greater responsibilities and autonomy. They actively choose life paths (education, training, work) that reflect their self-identified skills and ambitions.

These workshops are about the process of learning about oneself and what you can learn in the moment. EFL is an opportunity to reconnect to ourselves. In this way, time spent with a horse can give you deep insights and realizations about yourself, and how you relate to others and to the world around you. Essentially when we are working with the horses we become aware of “how others see us”. Horses respond to the energy and environment around them which makes them masters at identifying and reflecting the parts of us we don't know about or deny.

The sessions offer a cycle of instruction, response and feedback which enables the participant to communicate with the horse in a way that the horse understands, through body language, energy and movement.

Horses are prey animals and they have a need to feel safe and seek partnership and leadership. In addition, horses are highly aware of their surroundings and live in the present. Through building a trusting relationship, where a horse will willingly follow instruction, the individual practices skills, receives instant feedback and gains confidence through achieving the desired response.

We have a range of wellness practitioners who support us with art/music therapy, dance and movement, nature walk and talk sessions, nature photography, life coaching, mindfulness, and meditation. Sessions are all delivered by qualified leaders and supported by holistic and health professionals including a qualified psychotherapist and adult counsellor specialising in trauma.

“Basically, I want to say that horses inspire me and can help you through the really tough times and things that you may struggle with. One of the things that helped me was that horses can’t judge you on the way you look or the way you go around things. So what I’m trying to say is that horse riding isn’t just about sitting on horseback and letting them do all the work, because a horse is an animal with a mind of its own, much the same as me or you, so if you have confidence in yourself and your horse, you can get through anything by pushing through the mistakes you make, every time you fall get back up and have the determination to try and try again no matter how long it takes.”