Nature and wellbeing: Why we need nature
Back in lockdown again, not the best news, but we have been through two already so we will survive another!
After watching the prime minister deliver the news that all children will be homeschooling again for the next few months, I was not the happiest and felt an urge to be out in the wild! So, I woke up early before the sun and went on a long frosty walk, through fields and woodland.
Lockdown will be tough for everyone, but nature is always there to help us through! In my opinion, getting outdoors, whether that is birding, cycling, walking, photographing, running or swimming, is the best way to heal the mind!
‘Expose yourself to nature EVERY DAY, even if you just stare at a tree’ – Dr Rangan Chatterjee
Nature for health and wellbeing: Exposure to nature makes you feel better emotionally and contributes to your physical wellbeing - reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists. Studies have shown that those who have the least access to nature also have the worst levels of physical health and mental wellbeing. Seeing birds near our homes, walking through green spaces filled with wildflowers, and along rivers that are clean and clear reduces stress, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Daily contact with nature is also linked to better physical health, including reductions in obesity and improved concentration.
Research reveals that our environment can increase or reduce our stress levels, which in turn impacts our bodies. What we see, hear and experience at any moment, not only changes our mood but also how our nervous and immune systems are working. Being in nature or even viewing scenes of nature creates a calm and peaceful environment; seeing a Squirrel shoot up a tree or hearing a Blackbird whistling in a hedge. It is known to reduce anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings.
5 Ways to Wellbeing with Nature: TAKE NOTICE – notice the things around you, small wonders of nature. Seeing a Blue tit visit your garden feeder, or a plant poking through a wall. Be aware of the world around you.
BE ACTIVE – take a walk around your local greenspace, be it a nature reserve, park, or woodland. Research shows that activity in natural environments brings greater benefits than exercise elsewhere.
CONNECT – finding peace in nature on your own is great, but social relationships are vital for wellbeing too! Be with and talk to people with similar interests and get involved with local groups.
LEARN – there is always something to learn with nature, try something new! Learn a new birdsong, or how to differentiate bumblebees. Keeping the brain active is important!
GIVE – give something back to nature. Get involved with a local group or the community!
Despite the current circumstances, there are still so many ways to stay connected to nature and get out into the open – so head outside and enjoy while boosting your mental and physical health!
Written by: Izzy