Nature in your Neighbourhood – Enjoying Nature from Home
By Megan Brown (@theyorkshirezoologist)
Boredom, loneliness and anxiety might be some things you're experiencing right now. Here we are in a third lockdown nobody wanted, 11 months later, still cooped up indoors and missing family, friends and the pub. Now we’re probably all aware of the benefits being out in nature can do for both your mental and physical health, but how can we enjoy the approaching spring from indoors with our one allowed exercise a day? Some of us might be lucky enough to live in the countryside, surrounded by beautiful nature and public footpaths in every direction, but others aren’t so lucky. Having a garden might be something we take for advantage compared to people who live in an apartment with no land, or a high-rise flat in the middle of a built-up city. And then there’s those still working, maybe you’re a key worker or work nights and have no time to enjoy nature. Well hopefully this blog post will provide something for everyone to make the most of nature and the outdoors from home.
Living in semi-rural Yorkshire is definitely something I take advantage of - I’m well aware of how lucky I am! Despite not currently having a garden, I’m surrounded by fields, woodland and beautiful scenery I get out and enjoy practically every day. Nature and exercise are often closely related, whether you’re like me and enjoy a stroll with your camera to photograph it, prefer a more strenuous wild hike or perhaps a run or cycle in the great outdoors, there’s so many activities we can do outside and enjoy the nature around us while we do. Maybe you have the luxury of rolling hills, ancient woodland to explore, or the tranquil canal on your doorstep. But again, not everyone’s so lucky. So, what if you don’t have the best outdoor surroundings, well if you have a garden, why not try yoga or Zumba in the garden on a warm(ish) day? Do some football practice with a family member or splash out on a trampoline! If you’re in the city, why not look for local nature spots and places of beauty close by, maybe there’s a park you’ve not been to or a woodland you didn’t know was there. Finding new places to walk in nature wherever you are can be really refreshing and give you the escapism you might need, whether you’re stuck at home on furlough, a key worker or working from home.
Now everyone tends to bang on about exercise and its benefits; while it’s a great way to get outdoors, it’s not for everyone! If running, walking or cycling isn’t your thing, there’s still so much you can do! As we’re staying local, let’s start with the most local you can get - the garden! One of the great things about gardening is that you benefit from nature and nature benefits from you! Planting flowers, providing food for the birds or building a bug or hedgehog hotel and you’ll bring the wildlife to you! After all, flowers bring the insects, which bring the birds, which bring mammals and, if you’re lucky (maybe?), birds of prey! If you’ve got a big enough space, why not make your very own garden pond? Freshwater habitats, particularly in urban spaces, are increasingly important - providing a home for native invertebrates, insect larvae and amphibians! But no matter how small your outdoor space, planting a single potted plant on your balcony or window ledge still benefits the local wildlife and gives you a beautiful bit of your own nature - see what species come to visit! If you’re lacking any outdoor space, why not bird watch from the window, watch a nature documentary or start a new hobby that gets you outdoors like photography or voluntary survey work, benefitting conservation organisations while brushing up on your ID skills!
Finally, before I sign off, if you’re still working and don’t get much chance to enjoy nature, can you sit outside on your lunchbreak? Take a book, listen to a podcast or your favourite playlist while you look at the nature that surrounds you. If you work nights and are awake at 4 in the morning, experience the beauty of the dawn chorus - the very first birds singing as the sun rises, or see what nocturnal wildlife passes you by - owls, foxes, bats and hedgehogs are brilliant wildlife sightings to see from the countryside to city! However you enjoy nature, try and get just a little bit daily, whether it’s your daily walk, yoga in the garden, cycle to work or watching the birds out the window.