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Wellbeing in nature

Research tells us that there are Five Pathways to Wellbeing and the Five Pathways to Nature Connectedness.

Five pathways to wellbeing:

  • Connect

  • Be active

  • Take notice

  • Keep learning

  • Give

Five pathways to nature connectedness:

  • Senses

  • Emotion

  • Compassion

  • Meaning

  • Beauty

All week Bee kinder has been helping people, through Facebook and Instagram, to beat the lockdown lows by exploring actions that boost our wellbeing through nature. Just in case you missed it - here's the week in one.

Day 1 Getting Connected

First on the list of pathways to wellbeing is ‘Connect’, so we looked at ways nature can help us get connected. It’s not so easy to be connected in lockdown, but as social creatures it’s important to stay connected to friends and family. The first lockdown clearly demonstrated the immediate impact a loss of connection had on us.

Getting Connected Activities...

  • Go for a walk in a green space with your family or a friend and…

  • Take time to notice nature along the way.

  • Collect different coloured leaves to make a collage, dream catcher or memory stick.

  • Have a go at mini natural art – look up images of Andy Goldsworthy for some inspiration.

  • Video call a friend or family from your garden or whilst sitting by your window – share what you see, smell, feel, hear and maybe even taste!

  • Get creative and dust off those pencils and paints, video call a friend or family and have a natter whilst you draw or paint a picture of nature.

  • Or swap the paints for a pen and paper and write a poem or prose.

Day 2 Being Active

Second of the list of pathways to wellbeing is ‘Be Active’. We don’t all live in the countryside nor do we all have a garden, but most of us can get outdoors. Spending 20 minutes outdoors can benefit our wellbeing, and if we spend that time moving, the benefits increase.

Being Active Activities...

  • Go for a 20 minute walk taking time to notice nature along the way by awakening all your senses…

  • Listen to the birds, the sheep, buzzing insects, dripping as dew melts, crunching of leaves beneath your feet.

  • Look across at the shapes in the landscape, look down and see nature’s magnified beauty, look up and admire the changing clouds.

  • Smell the autumn air, the coffee drifting from someone’s kitchen the leaves beginning to turn to soil.

  • Touch the frost on the grass and feel the warmth of the sunshine on the walls.

  • And if you are really lucky, taste autumn’s leftover feast of blackberries and raspberries, collect chestnuts to roast on a fire in your garden, pick some sloes to make into gin!

  • Spend time in your garden getting it ready for winter…

  • Make a leaf compost.

  • Build a hedgehog box.

  • Create a woodpile or stone pile for frogs and toads to over-winter in.

  • Give your garden pets’ homes a good clean before winter. There’s noting more rewarding than a natter with a chicken whilst you work!

  • Take your exercise class outside, making the most of the fresh air around you.

Day 3 Taking notice

Third on the list of pathways to wellbeing is ‘Take Notice’. Research now tells us that ‘noticing nature’ is one of the most effective methods of connecting to nature. It’s all about being in the moment. Not thinking about the past, or planning out the future, its about being right there in the moment and really noticing what is happening around you.

Taking Notice Activities...

  • Sit by an open window, in your garden or in a sheltered spot on your walk and take a moment…

  • Sit still, close your eyes and listen. What can you hear? How many sounds are natural and how many are man-made?

  • Remaining still, open your eyes. Notice the things that are moving and notice the things that are still. Look down, what can you see up close? Have you ever noticed such detail? Look into the distance and the how the light settles on the hills, houses, or trees. Look up. Follow the clouds as they move slowly or speed across the sky in the wind.

  • Take a stroll; slow yourself down and stop to see, touch, smell, taste, hear.

  • Take a photo of anything! And another. Zoom in and notice the detail. Zoom out and notice the shapes and the light.

  • Make two L-shapes with your thumb and index fingers. Place them together to form a box, or frame. Move the box around and choose a feature to ‘frame’ – notice everything in the frame. Close your eyes and check that you have memorise it as a mental photo. Go home and sketch or write about your ‘photo’.

Day 4 Keep on Learning

The fourth pathway to wellbeing is ‘Keep learning’. Keeping your mind active and fed is as important as keeping your tummy full! We learn best if it is something we are interested in, we can receive the information in a form that suits us, and we find it relevant. Connections to nature are more likely to be formed is we see it as relevant to us, we view ourselves as part of nature and we experience an emotional link with it. I you are connected to nature you are more likely to take positive action for the benefit of nature.

How much do we really know about the world we live within?

  • Choose a nature-based subject that is relevant to you; something you are interested in, passionate about, brings you joy or makes you worry.

  • Make it your mission to learn at least one thing about it – where does my electricity come from and how can I make it cheaper and ‘greener’? What happens to the plastic when I ‘throw it away’ or recycle it? What actually is climate change, why does it affect me and what can I do about it? What’s the deal with orangutans and palm oil What is that brown bird that tweets from my gutters all day long? Do worms have a head? Is a slug a snail without a shell?

  • Share what you find with a friend or two; share it on social media or drop it into your next conversation!

Day 5 Give

The final pathway to wellbeing is ‘Give’. There are many ways to give.

Give Activities...

  • Volunteer your time and energy

Look for a local conservation charity or environmental community group that you can give a little time to. Volunteering comes in all shapes and sizes from manning a charity shop to planting sphagnum moss on the moor!

  • Demonstrate your Support

Add your name to a worthwhile campaign, write to your local MP for positive change, share social media posts from individuals, groups and larger charities who are taking large and small positive actions for nature, shop locally or on-line through independent businesses that have environmental and ethical policies, change your heating to ‘green’ suppliers, say no to unnecessary packaging.

  • Donate some money

A little goes a long way. Consider setting up a monthly direct debit to a nature conservation charity or make a one-off payment of whatever you can afford. Organise a sponsored fundraising event or make and sell gifts and donate a percentage of your profits to a charity.

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