The past year has been tough for everyone, but nature will always be there to help us through. Getting outdoors, whether that is birding, cycling, walking, photographing, running or swimming. Nature for our guest 15-year-old blogger Izzy, the best way to heal the mind!
Nature for health and wellbeing
Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, but it also contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality! 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 also reveals that environments can increase or reduce our stress, which in turn impacts our bodies. What we are seeing, hearing, experiencing 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, is a calm and peaceful environment. So things like seeing a Squirrel shoot up a tree or hearing a Blackbird whistling in a hedge can reduce anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings.
How can I use nature for the 5 Ways to Wellbeing?
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 – having that peace and quiet in nature on your own is great, but social relationships are important for wellbeing too! Share nature with others. This might be through local groups or finding others with similar interests.
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 really 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 – it will really benefit your mental and physical health for the better!
Written by guest blogger Izzy Fry, age 15