10 ways to get closer to nature and its wonderful wildlife
From feeling the fresh autumn breeze on your face, to watching the leaves gently fall, you may experience a natural ‘high’ when immersed in nature. Getting outdoors is a tonic for many, especially in the face of life’s obstacles, with evidence suggesting that natural environments boast healing properties for our mental and physical wellbeing.
And there is more to nature than the experience of being outside. It’s also about reaping in all the benefits nature gives us, from fresh fruit and vegetables to honey and beeswax. In fact, the incredible bees devote their lives to foraging in bountiful plants for nectar and pollen, as well as pollenating three out of four crops that yield food That’s why, in addition to protecting the wondrous honey bees through our Hives For Lives programme of vital initiatives, we’re committed to spotlighting the power of nature.
We’ve collated ways in which nature nurtures positive physical and mental wellbeing, with 10 simple tips to soak up some natural goodness in all its endorphin flowing, picturesque glory. Why wouldn’t you? There’s no other buzz quite like it.
Nature… is a mood booster and stress soother
Going outside to ‘clear your head’ or ‘grab some fresh air’ have long been opportunities to take a small break from daily pressures in life or work, with GPs increasingly prescribing nature-based activities (like regular walks) for patients with depression and anxiety. Why? Because nature has a special ability to wash away tension, aiding relaxation and mindfulness.
The experience of being at one with nature allows our senses to connect with the world around us, distracting us from low feelings and letting our minds rest. The more senses we engage, the greater the benefits — whether it’s hearing the bees buzz around plants or seeing the sky change colour as the sun sets. The next time you’re out on a solo stroll or a weekend walk with little ones, pay closer attention to the sights, sounds, scents and textures around you in a game of ‘I Spy’. Even in cities, you’ll find fascinating urban wildlife, so see what you can identify.
Even a fleeting nature fix for as little as 10 minutes a day can lower stress and leave a lasting ‘feel-good’ factor for months. Remember this next time it feels tricky to spare time to step away from your desk or home commitments.
Nature… provides a sense of purpose and achievement
As well as observing the natural world around you, getting stuck in and ‘doing’ can be highly fulfilling. Physically tending to plants or growing produce carries meditative meaning and purpose for many; it helps us to appreciate our power to nurture nature and feel pride when our efforts flourish.
If you’re keen to get gardening but aren’t sure where to start, create a nature haven by planting bee-friendly plants to welcome in pollinators. For example, Marjoram is an easy-to-grow herb which blooms beautifully year-round, adds a splash of colour with its purple petals and tastes lovely (with a similar flavour to oregano). Better yet, its alluring aroma means you’ll be helping to feed the bees who love to forage on its nectar. Start planting indoors in late winter or early spring, and when you move them outside, you’ll feel such a buzz seeing the bees happily flying from flower to flower, knowing that in turn you’re supporting the environment.
The physical act of touching soil is also believed to have anti-depressant properties. This is because it contains bacteria which helps to activate brain cells that produce serotonin; a ‘happy’ chemical. Who knew getting your hands dirty was so good for you? Wondrous
Nature… improves physical wellness
Spending more time exploring outdoors has been linked to increased physical activity and therefore improved fitness; whether that’s pottering around the garden or going for a jog. As little as five minutes of ‘green exercise’ — that’s exercise done in green spaces — builds muscle strength, reduces blood pressure and corrects posture. Additionally, increased exposure to Vitamin D from the sun helps to keep our bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
Top 10 tips to help you connect with nature and its wonderful wildlife
There’s no need to travel far to enjoy impressive landscapes and feel the positive effects of nature – gardens and local green spaces can be just as good! The Royal Horticultural Society found that 57% of people value their gardens more than they did before the coronavirus lockdown, with 71% of those surveyed saying their outdoor space has helped their physical and mental health. Time and travel don’t come into it; happiness begins at home.
- Plant wildflowers on a windowsill or in a special patch in your garden. Sowing the likes of Cowslip and Musk Mallow now will result in beautiful blooms come spring. The bees will thank you for it!
- Grow wild — choose a little spot to let grass (ideally with weeds like clover and dandelions) grow longer; the increased nectar count in this area will be a haven for pollinators, like honey bees
- Place a bird feeder in your garden, then enjoy your winged visitors contentedly pecking away. This is all the more important as we move into colder months
- Build or buy a bee hotel in your garden to attract solitary bees. Better yet, your act of hive kindness increases their chance of survival
- Watch the leaves on surrounding trees change to warmer hues
- Appreciate nature’s treats, like honey, a rich amber nectar created by the little hive hero, the honey bee. In fact, it’s believed they make excess honey especially for us to eat!
- Bring the outside in by adding natural design elements in your home, such as indoor plants, shells, or pebbles or natural beeswax candles
- Get close to nature virtually; use apps like The Wildlife Trusts: Nature Finder, PictureThis or create your own digital garden
- Position comfy garden furniture looking out onto a lovely view where you can enjoy wildlife spotting and the warm sun on your face
- Grow your own produce, from fruit to vegetables and herbs. Dishes with a homemade touch will taste all the sweeter. At this time of year, Honey-poached Pear & Blackberry Porridge makes for a scrummy seasonal breakfast!
Connecting with nature helps us to unplug from daily life and focus on being present, which works wonders on our wellbeing. As gardening guru Monty Don said, gardens are ‘desperately important’ for nourishing our souls. So, by making the most of green spaces in your free time — no matter how big or small — we believe that basic daily encounters with nature will drive a deeper appreciation for the joy and respite that it offers. We are so lucky to live amongst nature, so we ought to take great care to protect natural spaces and our buzzing neighbours.