Did you know that a two-hour ‘dose’ of nature every week significantly boosts our health and wellbeing, even if we’re just sitting and enjoying the peace?
That’s according to recent research led by the University of Exeter.
We never forget how lucky we are to have the amazing Solent coast on our doorstep with its wealth of wildlife and nature – all the more reason to look out for birds and to give them the space they need to thrive.
A focus on mental health
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week from 9 to 15 May and this year it has the official theme of loneliness.
According to experts, one in four of us feels lonely some or all of the time and the longer we feel lonely, it seems the more we are at risk of mental health problems.
The Mental Health Foundation has put together some practical steps to combat loneliness and ways we can support others who may be feeling lonely which include doing enjoyable things to keep busy and doing things that stimulate your mind.
Boost your wellbeing in nature
Here’s Mind’s top tips:
- Find things to see, hear, taste, smell or touch: for example, pebbles under our feet or the feeling of wind and sunlight.
- Keep a record of what we notice by taking photos or making notes in a diary or on our phones.
- Set ourselves challenges, for example, trying to notice three things in nature each day.
- Listen to recordings of mindfulness exercises. There’s some great information on mindfulness on the Mind website.
- Spend time thinking about what we’re grateful for as it can be easy to take nature for granted.
- Try to minimise distractions. Mind recommends listening to the sounds around us rather than putting headphones in.
Thriving with nature
Another useful resource is Thriving with Nature, an initiative from the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Mental Health Foundation. This project focuses on being around animals and wildlife to benefit our overall wellbeing.
Doing things like observing and interacting with wildlife in their natural habitat, such as watching birds, can, they say, improve people’s feelings of wellbeing, relaxation, and connection to nature. You can find out more in their Thriving with Nature guide.
Books and wellbeing
We’d also like to recommend some books written on the topic of nature and wellbeing which we’ve found at our local libraries:⠀
Isabel Hardman’s book The Natural Health Service is her personal account of the power of nature to mend your mind, and Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness is about how an encounter with a buzzard put him on the road to mental health recovery. And there’s also Richard Mabey’s heartfelt memoir Nature Cure.⠀