February might be the shortest month of the year, but it doesn’t always feel like it. The new year isn’t so new anymore and you’ve probably already forgotten your resolution; just as you begin to catch your breath after exam season, lectures are back in full swing and you are introduced to the next few months’ worth of work. The daunting prospect of strikes brings added stress: there is work to be done and no-one to teach it. So, if the February blues are hitting hard, it might be time to counteract them with the natural stress-busters that Sheffield has to offer.
The Botanical Gardens are perhaps the obvious example. Originally laid out in 1836, the gardens are a ‘green lung’ in the city with over 5,000 species of plants offering various aromas and colours to relax as you walk around the gardens and greenhouses. If plants aren’t your cup of green tea, the gardens also host open-air theatre, music and art events throughout the year, all of which provide both fresh air and a distraction from university pressures. The dates and times of these events are all available via their website: http://www.sbg.org.uk
Graves Park is home to rare breeds of cattle, pigs, chickens, and donkeys, to give you the opportunity to destress in their company whether you’re spending time petting the rabbits or watching the pigs wallow in the mud. There is ample scientific evidence to suggest that interacting with animals reduces stress, anxiety, and depressive feelings. So, if you’re in need of an endorphin boost, Graves Park might be the perfect place.
Another widely-accepted feel-good activity is playing sports. Graves Park also has a golf course, two bowling greens and several tennis courts, alongside football and cricket pitches. Furthermore, the park has three lakes for a picturesque walk and a park run every Saturday morning (with a café for those less sporty!).
Perhaps already familiar to many students is Endcliffe Park. Within the park is Shepherds Wheel, an old grinding shop run by a water wheel with displays if you find yourself interested in its history. The water that turns the wheel is from the Porter Brook river which continues beyond to provide scenery for walks when you’re in need of some space and greenery.
If you can manage to travel a little further than Endcliffe Park, Hillsborough Park is easily accessible via public transport. It has basketball and tennis courts, a football pitch, fishing lake, bowling green and is home to a running club, also hosting a weekly park run. If Endcliffe Park feels a bit too familiar, Hillsborough Park could certainly provide a space to destress and kick those February blues.
With more trees than any other city, Sheffield is saturated with stress-busting green space. Weston Park is a stone’s throw from the University, Endcliffe Park is local to many student living spaces, and the Botanical Gardens is similarly accessible. If you feel that some fresh air might cheer you up in the midst of the cold, the dark, and the daunting prospect of another semester, wrap up warm and head outside.