Wild Wellbeing - Taking Notice

© Matthew Roberts

The Five Ways to Wellbeing, developed by the New Economics Foundation, offer a helpful framework to help us connect to nature during lockdown. Each week, I’ll focus on a different one of these ways, giving you helpful tips and tricks to take time out, whatever you’re doing and wherever you are. This week we’re taking notice.

Right now, connecting to nature, and taking some time out is more important than ever, but knowing what to do can be daunting, especially if you’re not able to leave your house. The Five Ways to Wellbeing, developed by the New Economics Foundation, offer a helpful framework. For the next five weeks I’ll focus on one of each of these ways, giving you helpful tips and tricks to take time out, whatever you’re doing and wherever you are. This week we’re taking notice.

Taking notice is about paying attention to the good things around you right now, stepping out of the stresses of everyday life and savouring the moment. Sounds easy right? Ok, so at the moment, probably not so simple, but whether you’ve got 5 minutes or 50, these simple actions can help you take notice. You can do these alone, or with the people in your household.

If you've only got a minute...

  • Open your window and look out- there’s a favourite study of mine which I regularly quote which was conducted in the 1980s by a guy called Roger S Ulrich. He found that gall bladder surgery patients that had a view of nature from their windows recovered faster than those who could see a brick wall. Views of nature are good for us. Take a moment to notice the clouds moving over head, the wind moving the trees, even count the daisies you can see on the scrap of land beside the car parking.
  • Close your eyes- listen to the sounds of what’s going on outside. Yes, you’ll probably hear some human noises, but we’re part of nature too, and with less traffic and aeroplanes about now is the time to hear more wildlife. This is especially fun at dawn or dusk.
  • Gaze at your house plant- Ok, so this one’s a bit weird, but if you’ve only got a minute changing your view, looking away from a screen or focussing on something else can really make a difference.
Houseplants on desk with hand painted mug

My houseplants are right on my desk where I'm working from home.

If you've got 5 minutes or more...

  • Make a sound map- Watch me having a go here
  • Try some meditation- there are some great nature soundscapes available on all the usual music streaming apps
  • Go hunting for some fractals- a fractal is a self-repeating pattern of a shape that varies in scale (a group of fungi, dandelions, or ocean waves for example). I had a look in my garden this morning and I found many. I have Lucy Jones’s book Losing Eden to thank for this one. She describes in the book some research by Richard Taylor that found that the human eye is fractal shaped, so when we look at things which are also fractal shaped our eyes can lock on to them and it’s a lot more pleasing than looking at the man-made things around our homes.

If you've got an hour or more...

  • Create some art from the nature you’ve seen- Paint, write, make a collage from natural materials, try some macro photograph (you can see my attempts below). Share your work with us via #Hampshirewindowwildlife or #Islandwindowwildlife
  • Take part in How Wild Are We? By 2030 Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust want to see a much wilder Hampshire and Isle of Wight. We need your help to create a baseline of the wildlife we have now so we can track our progress. Complete our citizen science surveys to track the wildlife you notice from your window, balcony or garden https://www.hiwwt.org.uk/how-wild-are-we

How the Wildlife Trust is helping you connect to nature

Taking notice is only one pathway to wellbeing. Look out for next week's blog with another pathway to wellbeing.