With lockdown over and a new normal becoming apparent, many of us have spent the summer months a little differently this year.
Despite foreign travel being out of bounds for most and a number of our favourite activities and attractions being restricted by Covid-19 measures, we’ve had plenty of fun appreciating the simpler things in life this summer.
After months spent indoors, getting back outside was high on everyone’s list of priorities. Green spaces have never been explored so much as a result, and as a nation we’re feeling all the more better for it, particularly as we manage the anxiety and mixed emotions we’re all feeling during this uncertain and challenging time.
Here we reveal more about the benefits of appreciating nature and how to do just that in your everyday life.
Why nature is good for us
In the UK, we’re no doubt blessed with so many stunningly beautiful outdoor spaces, but did you know, studies have shown that getting out there in nature makes you happier and healthier?
As well as the natural world being a marvel in itself, simply being amongst nature has been linked to the increased fitness levels that actively lower the risk of a long list of illnesses and diseases.
It’s even been found to help people with long term ill health. Those with dementia, for example, have realised improved health and wellbeing by engaging with nature.
Being outdoors in nature is also one of the most effective and simplest relaxation techniques, with those spending time outdoors able to reduce stress levels and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
For younger people, appreciating nature can have lifelong consequences too. We’ll let the experts at BBC Earth explain more:
“Children exposed to the natural world showed increases in self-esteem. They also felt it taught them how to take risks, unleashed their creativity and gave them a chance to exercise, play, and discover. In some cases nature can significantly improve the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), providing a calming influence and helping them concentrate.”
As appreciation for nature grows, a brighter future for conservation becomes apparent. By developing a positive emotional connection to nature, individuals will want to do their part in preserving the environments, wildlife, and habitats they treasure.
Getting connected to nature
If you want to realise the benefits mentioned above, there’s no better time to start connecting with and appreciating nature than right now.
The autumn and winter seasons may be a little cooler, but they offer endless beautiful sights and experiences within the natural world.
Getting connected with nature is easy, and you don’t have to travel far to get started. Spend time watching nature from your window, each season offers its own unique sights and sounds. Take a walk in a quiet spot in silence to listen to birdsong.
The best time to hear birdsong is during the first hour after sunrise. As time goes on you’ll be able to distinguish between the distinct differences of the autumn and spring songs.
Whilst exploring the natural world makes for a great day out, you don’t have to wait around for the perfect trip to relish everything the great outdoors has to offer.
Whether walking to school or work instead of driving, tending to your backyard, discovering the joys of foraging, or taking a walk around the block, there are so many everyday opportunities to appreciate nature.
Joining a walking group is another excellent way to reconnect with nature within your local area. I’m in the process of setting up a local walking group to provide better mental health support for participants during the gloomier months. I’ll keep you posted on the details!
Whether you’re venturing out in a group or going it alone, embracing the benefits of meditative walking will help you to develop a whole different understanding and awareness of your surroundings, body and thoughts.
Start in your own backyard
Transforming your garden into a space that you want to spend time in will help you grow that connection with nature. Better yet, the whole family can get involved via interactive activities.
Make and hang bird feeders, become better acquainted with the feathered friends that visit your garden with a spot of bird watching, keep a wildlife journal, create wildlife friendly homes, or go on a bug safari to pay more attention and gain an increased awareness of the environment right on your doorstep.
I’d love to hear more about how you appreciate nature – either in your own garden or wider natural surroundings.
Share your back to nature story with me and your fellow Goodness followers by posting them to Facebook or Instagram. Don’t forget to tag me @webofgoodness.