Build your connection with nature one day at a time

Build your connection with nature one day at a time

Touching a tree © Matthew Roberts

Becky O'Melia, our Education and Engagement Manager, talks about the benefits of connecting with nature and why 30 Days Wild is a great way to get started.

As Education and Engagement Manager for the Trust, not only is it part of my role to understand the importance of wild places for people, but I’m lucky enough to visit my team at some of our most beautiful nature reserves across the two counties.  But even though I have wildlife as a part of my day job, there are days when I feel like I miss out on my wild fix. 30 Days Wild reminds me to take a moment to appreciate the wildlife around me, and feel the benefits from spending time in it. It can sometimes feel like there is little time to do everything that adult life dictates; and that there’s just no way to fit something else in to our busy, hectic lives. The greatest thing about 30 Days Wild is that it’s not just another thing that you feel you should do, it’s something that can fit in to your life. By making some tiny changes as you go about your daily life you could feel a lot more wild.

  1. Go for your run without headphones- experience bird song instead of your usual running playlist and get your motivation from wildlife
  2. Take that coffee with friends outside- take a reusable cup with you next time you visit your favourite coffee shop. Many shops give discount for reusable cups now, and you can take the coffee anywhere you like. Try your local park, or sitting on tables outside the café, you’ll be surprised by the amount of wildlife you can spot in a town or city.
  3. Take full advantage of the pub beer garden during the warm weather- my local pub has a screaming frenzy of swifts swooping through the sky most evenings, a spectacular sight on a summer’s evening.
  4. Hold a meeting outside- people removed from technology and given time to think can be very productive. If you’ve got a sticky problem you need to solve, or need some creativity, then an outdoor meeting can be really beneficial. For extra benefits make it a walking meeting (especially good for 1:1s)
  5. Take your hobby outside- knitting, reading, playing games on your tablet, they can all be done outside. Find a shady spot under a tree and enjoy. I recommend you look up from what you’re doing occasionally too; nature is great for resetting concentration.

Just in case you’re not quite convinced yet, here’s a little more about those benefits I’ve hinted at. The theory of Biophilia, introduced by Edward O Wilson, suggests that humans evolved in natural environments, as part of the natural world. That because of this we have an urge to affiliate with other forms of life and that it stands to reason that we should feel the ill effects of being separated from nature. The lives we live today have only been a part of our evolution for a few hundred years, being part of nature and living as part of the wider ecosystem is something we did for hundreds of thousands of years. We’ve become more and more disconnected from the natural world, and that’s having a detrimental effect on our health and wellbeing (both physically and mentally).  Our disconnection from nature is also having an impact on the planet; we’re damaging the wonderful world around us because we don’t understand how important it is.

If we’re going to reconnect, and gain the benefits for nature and wildlife that come with that reconnection, then we need to find effective ways of doing it. 30 Days Wild is a great way of re-engaging, or increasing your existing engagement with nature.  The University of Derby and The Wildlife Trusts have evaluated 30 Days Wild for the last two years. They’ve been looking at the impact of engaging with the natural world and its beauty on nature connection, happiness, health and conservation behaviours. Not only did the people who had the lowest level of nature connection, conservation behaviours and happiness show the greatest benefit from taking part, but the benefits for many were sustained beyond June. People who took part in 30 Days Wild reported increases in their happiness through engaging with nature, which led to them feeling healthier too. The team at the University of Derby suggest that this is a result of people experiencing a calming effect of nature which reduces the stress of our daily lives, often increased by urban living.

So if letting a little bit of nature in to your life can help you feel calmer, happier and healthier, why not give it a try? (Summary of Wildlife Trusts/University of Derby work)