Are you spending too much time inside? Research suggests that anxiety, stress and depression may be partly traceable to a lack of contact with the natural world. Getting outside, or even just appreciating nature where you find it -in the city or in your home- can have huge positive effects on your health, happiness and overall wellbeing. Our guide shows you the link between nature and happiness and what you can do to re-connect with it.
Boosting your mood
A recent study found that people who connected more with nature, noticing and appreciating the natural world, were happier. In fact, nature connectedness can often predict happiness, regardless of other factors like connections with friends and family.
A 2007 study by researchers in Essex found that a walk outside each day could even have the same effect as taking antidepressant drugs. 88% of people with depression reported improvements in their mood after taking a stroll in a country park, compared with only 44% of people who took a walk inside a shopping centre.
Regular walking and exercise outdoors has a huge range of other health benefits too, including promoting heart health and maintaining a healthy weight.
Go green- four steps to connect with nature
Start a nature journal
You might be unaware of how little of your time is spent outdoors. Keeping a nature journal, where you note how often you go outside and what you do, is a great way to keep track. You can then pinpoint places in your schedule where you could fit in some time outside, such as:
- Taking your lunch break outside
- Walking to work or school
- Walking to the local shops at the weekend
You’ll notice the benefits straight away as your mood improves and stress decreases.
Live in the moment
Slow down and practice noticing and appreciating the nature in your surroundings during your everyday life. Stress will melt away as you slow your thoughts to the pace of nature- watch the clouds move across the sky, or the wind in the trees.
If you’re stuck in your office, give your eyes a break from the screen once in a while and look out the window. Scenic views have been shown to benefit your health.
Go for a wander
When you have more time free, such as a sunny weekend day, try taking a field guide and going nature watching in a local park or reserve. Observing what’s happening in nature in different seasons is a great way to reconnect with the rhythm of the outside world.
You can also bring a friend or a good book and simply sit and enjoy being outside.
Bring nature home
You can create a miniature garden sanctuary for wildlife to connect with nature in your home. If you don’t already have one, a bird bath or bird feeder is a great way to bring birds to your garden. If you have green thumbs, planting borage will attract bees with its bright blue flowers . Gardening is also a great form of exercise and mental wellbeing booster!
Back in June the Wildlife Trusts ran a ‘30 days wild challenge’ to get people connected with nature. Their website is packed with activity ideas. Try one of their “random acts of wildness” to reap the health and happiness benefits of contact with nature.