As you’ve probably gathered by now, I love to get outdoors. I love the fresh air, I love the colours, I love the textures, the trees and plants, I even love the weather, mostly!
There’s just something about being outside, in the natural landscape, that just makes my heart happy. It makes me feel restored, and calmer, and more connected to myself.
And it’s not just me that benefits from being outside. Being in nature is proven to benefit mental health, whoever you are and whatever stage of life you are at. Just the simple act of spending some time in open space and greenery can massively benefit your wellbeing. And I’m not talking here about hiking up Munroes or going on a massive expedition, even just heading out into your daily surroundings regularly can offer great benefits. When is the last time you just took a walk down your street and really paid attention to the trees, or weeds, or textures of the pavements or walls? What can you notice when you head outside and really take a minute to pay attention to your surroundings and have a moment to take a deep breath?
Are there ways you can build just a little bit of outdoors time into your day or week?
For me, when I’m at my other job, if I can, I always take a break and head down to the riverside which I am so lucky to have right on Campus. It’s so peaceful down there and I instantly feel better, even if it’s just for ten minutes.
Or, can you park your car a little further away? Last week I did this and I was lucky enough to see a deer dashing about 10m beyond the car. Now there aren’t deer dashing around everywhere, but what can you discover in a five minute walk along a stretch of road?
If you are feeling a bit more adventurous and have more time then I really encourage you to head out a bit further, pack a canteen of water and a sandwich and spend the day in some woods! Venture somewhere you have never been before and see what you can discover. The association of Nature and Forest Therapy has claimed that forest walks can show a 12.4% decrease in the stress hormone cortisol over taking an urban walk and there are so many fabulous trails to discover, especially here in Scotland.
There’s something about being in woods that always makes me revert to childhood! I just want to pick up sticks and find dens, and jump over roots! And just do it! Do whatever you feel! No tree is going to tell you to be a grown up and walk sensibly! Just be, and feel good about it.
And if you start to feel more connected to nature, you are going to start caring about it more.
There is a relationship between the feelings of connectedness to nature that UK adults have and their beliefs about environmental concerns and how this influences their behaviours.
In a study carried out by the RSPB, over three-quarters of people who felt connected to nature had changed their behaviours in the previous year out of concern for the environment – compared to significantly fewer of those who did not feel connected. These pro-environmental behaviours included no longer buying a product they previously would have because it caused environmental problems.
So no excuses, get outdoors, go find your landscape! It’ll benefit you, it’ll benefit the environment and I promise your soul will thank you for it!