It is the night of the 23rd of March and lockdown has just been announced. I feel sadness, annoyed with the restrictions, and annoyed with the government response; but what I could not predict was the power of nature to help me get through this, and subsequent, lockdowns.
Nature has been a constant of my life, and I love it; but during the first lockdown my love was rekindled with it. Normally, in March, April and May of each year I hear a melody of crisp birdsongs through my window but not much else. Exams are coming and I have little time for much else other than endless revision.
But last year was different…
I made time to see nature and as strange as it sounds, the 1-hour limit of exercise once a day gave an incentive for me to go out and spend that hour being humbled by nature. I stopped work and made time to learn; to explore; to discover… I learnt to recognise different birdsong which opened a whole new world up to me; identified different individual’s territories; identified new moth and butterfly species; and identified ladybird larvae and adults. It was a simply magical summer of discovery. That discovery, I believe, helped me stay mentally positive in that lockdown. I dread to think how much harder I would have found the first, and subsequent, lockdowns without nature.
Science shows that spending time in nature is beneficial, and indeed, science is not wrong. Antidotally, going for a walk in the fresh air outside in nature makes me feel much more positive, awake, motivates me; makes me more energetic; gives me the ability to focus better on my work; to think clearer; and makes me feels happier mentally and reduce negative thoughts. Immersing myself in wildlife and taking the time to both see and hear the small details always enthrals me and makes me feel more positive; but also reminds me that I am only a small part of this world. Seeing a blue tit, or blackbird, or robin hop onto a branch near me always brings a smile to me and it gives me comfort. Listening to birdsong is simply relaxing. Seeing how moss has created spectacular textures on trees makes me feel happy and brings comfort to the soul. Hearing the howling of the wind blow onto my face is comforting too; as is sunshine beaming onto my face. Seeing these details relaxes and comforts me. It is my mechanism to help reduce stress and anxiety and allows me to feel positive and relaxed.
Nature is deeply powerful and has helped me tremendously to get through lockdowns. Why? Because I struggle to relax. In fact, the only place where I feel truly relaxed is in nature. Nature is magic! Pure magic!
To conclude, I would recommend spending time in nature. And yes, I know it does not look inviting right now but trust me you will feel better for going outside. Even half-an-hour a day will transform your day and both your mental and physical health. And remember nature is magic!
PHOTO BY: SOPHIE DEBENHAM