During the past year many of us have been out into nature more than we ever have before and have been enjoying all the benefits that our outdoor environment can bring to our health and wellbeing. As an outdoorsy type of person, I cannot imagine my life without a daily dose of nature connectedness but now that the world is beginning to open up again it may be more difficult for some people to find the same amount of time or energy to keep up the practice of spending time outdoors several times each week.
So how can we make the most of our time outdoors and continue to engage with the natural world?
If you have thoroughly explored your local area during the lockdowns, you may feel as though there is nothing new to see but don’t forget – nature connectedness is about using all of your senses.
A top tip for enjoying and exploring your local area and gaining a new perspective on the natural world is to go out with something specific to notice. This could be:
Listening carefully to the birdsong that you can hear around you. See how many different types of birdsong you can hear. If you can identify a particular birdsong, see how many times you hear that species of bird singing on your walk.
Noticing the different types of trees you pass on your walk. This is easier in the Spring when the leaves are beginning to show. Which ones seem more common in your area? Notice the different shades of green or the shapes of the leaves. Stop and smell the blossom. Does it all have the same scent?
Feeling the different textures of tree bark (you see – there is a bit of tree hugging if you feel so inclined!) It is easy to imagine that all tree bark is the same but there are so many different textures when you take a little time to notice them.
Looking out for things floating around in the air. Once you start looking you will notice so many insects as well as seed heads from dandelions or willow trees and maybe a few feathers. If you are looking out for pollinating insects you will see a huge variety in shapes, sizes and colours.
Looking out for ‘volunteer plants’ that have seeded themselves in unusual places like a crack in a wall or in the roots or bark of a tree. Marvel at the ingenuity of plants that seem to find a way to survive in the most unlikely of places, especially those that have set foot in a community of another species, such as a lone yellow primrose in a field of bluebells!
Finding a stopping place so that you can really take in your surroundings for a few minutes. It doesn’t have to be long. Just enough time to slow your heart rate and to take a few deep breaths. Notice the temperature, the sun and the shade and the movement of the air around you.
However you decide to enjoy it, I wish you all a happy and, hopefully, nature filled bank holiday weekend.😊