Nature and your wellbeing

(c) Bill Richards

How nature can help you feel calm...

In these uncertain times, you may understandably be feeling anxious, stressed and overwhelmed. Whatever the situation you're in, nature can help you feel calmer - boosting your mental wellbeing.

Here are our top tips for feeling closer to nature, simply and easily.

Spring flowers (c) Gemma de Gouveia

1) Take a moment to notice it

Wherever you are, take a moment to pause - look and listen to what's around you.

Look for the signs of spring, whether that's trees in bud, your first bee of the year, or colourful bulbs poking up through the ground.

Listen for birdsong out on a walk, or through an open window if you can't go out. See if you can spot any birds gathering materials for their nests.

Even something as simple as watching the clouds in the sky for five minutes can help to settle a restless mind.

Why not dedicate a little time every day just to stop, look and listen?

Nature books

2) Escape with a book or documentary

If you're self-isolating and can't leave the house, experiencing nature is understandably more difficult. Why not escape into nature with a book or TV programme?

Browse Waterstones' top nature books for ideas - many are available to download as e-books. BBC iPlayer and Netflix have lots of nature documentaries available, from Sir David Attenborough's original Blue Planet to the hidden spy-camera series Spy in the Wild. 

Great tit (c) Neil Aldridge

3) Learn your birds

Birds embody pure joy! So often in our busy lives however, we walk right past them without a second glance. With many of us spending more time at home, it's a great opportunity to do some wildlife studying...

And there's no better time than spring, as it's easier to see birds in trees. Start with seeing what you can spot from your window or on a walk - look at their size, colour, beak or wing shape, and behaviour. Notice how different they are. Online identification guides are great ways to learn all about these amazing creatures!

If you're already pretty good at recognising them, then how's your birdsong identification? There are also lots of resources online to help you learn different calls and song. 

Gardening

4) Get hands-on in the garden

If you have a garden, a 'yarden' or even a windowsill, this is a chance to get some work done outside. Our gardens, pots, ponds and planters are havens for wildlife up and down our country, so browse our tips for gardening for wildlife to see if there's anything new you can do. 

If you don't have any outside space, it could be worth checking in with neighbours who are self-isolating. They may appreciate the help and you'll earn brownie points, as well as gaining some spirit-lifting outdoor hours. Doing good always feels good too!

(Remember to follow advice at all times, and don't come into contact with anyone showing symptoms.)