Connecting with nature

So many of us feel distanced from nature. But with the mental, physical and social health benefits of getting outdoors so many and so great – why is this happening?

Meet Lorna

Lorna is a mental health champion at the RSPB. Based at The Lodge, she offers support to colleagues across the organisation.

Lorna author biography

Where to begin

I think it’s partly down to the fact that we’re just too hard on ourselves. When we consider “the outdoors”, we often weave grand expectations in our minds. Mountains, moors and ocean spray. I’m here to tell you that being active, getting outdoors and connecting to nature can be whatever you want it to be.

To get you started, I’ve jotted down a few ideas for you to use as springboards:

1. Be active.

This really doesn’t have to mean going for a half marathon trail run in midwinter.

If you lead a busy working life, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to head out for a walk during your lunch break. We spend hour after hour hunched over in front of our computers, staring at screens. It’s no wonder we often end up feeling so sluggish by mid-afternoon.

Something that’s really helped me in recent months is having walking buddies. Block out your lunch break in your diary and invite colleagues – that way, you’re all in it together. No guilt, a chance to connect with others and just… breathe. I always have a muddy old pair of trainers under my desk for just these times.

But, if you do really want to push yourself – think bracing. I implore you to go for a walk on a windy, rainy day. Don’t bother with your hair or make-up. Throw on some waterproofs. As “luck” would have it for me, I genuinely can’t remember the last time I went on a weekend walk when it didn’t absolutely hammer it down – but there’s just something so liberating about giving yourself to the elements.

Plus, you can’t beat the feeling of popping on a fresh pair of socks and a snuggly jumper when you get back to the car.

2. Connect and take notice.

Saying that, there are some days when I’d rather not give myself to the rain – namely, on a Monday morning.

We’re told to hate Mondays. I’m not a fan of Sunday evenings, as I’ll often find myself running through to-do lists in my head. So, I’ve taken on a two-pronged defence for my busy brain. Sunday evening and Monday morning yoga – short sessions, mind – anything from 15-30mins. Usually an indoor activity, but one I hope to bring out into the garden when summer finally arrives. I can’t wait to confuse my garden birds with my yoga skills – I really can’t stress enough how much of a beginner I am.

And if you don’t have a garden, see if you’re able to find a suitable space at work to do this with your colleagues – I’d highly recommend popping on some ambient bird song for some extra calming goodness, too.

Holistic therapies

Feeling inspired? Come along to one of our holistic therapy events. From yoga in the yurt to forest bathing, connect to nature and find your calm.

3. Listen out and look up.

We really are surrounded by nature – you just might not have noticed it.

Mindfulness and nature are intrinsically connected; it’s all about being present and understanding what it is you’re seeing and hearing around you. It’s a dizzying world, taking notice – not least because it involves you wandering around craning your neck backwards.

A good place to start would be to try and identify the birds that visit your garden, your local park, on your walk to work. If you spot a bird regularly, familiarise yourself with its song. If you’re not sure what bird it is you’ve spotted, try to get a photo – our trusty bird ID will help you do the rest!

Of course, these are just my own suggestions; but all of them come from a place of sincerity. As a long-time sufferer of anxiety and depression, I’ve spent years trying to find the best coping mechanisms. The trouble is, it’s so very personal – and you just won’t know until you try what works for you.

What I can say with some certainty is that spending just 10 minutes a week in a garden or park has immeasurable benefits for our mental, physical and social health. How you do it is all down to you.

Chart success!

Let Nature Sing was your opportunity to put the birds you care about on the main stage. Thanks to you, we reached #18 in the charts! Thank you for helping us make history. Don’t forget you can still buy/stream the song and show your support for nature.

Buy/stream arrow-down-simple-blue arrow-down-simple-blue