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Using nature for your wellbeing

tree branches with green leaves

Bringing nature into your everyday life and spending time in outdoor space in any form can benefit our mental and physical wellbeing, with positive effects including:

  • Improved mood
  • Higher levels of productivity and creativity
  • Reduced feelings of stress or anger
  • Lower risks of certain physical ailments
  • Feeling more relaxed
  • Help you be more active
  • Improved cognitive development in children.

Recent research has shown that the health and wellbeing benefits of spending at least two hours in nature a week were as pronounced as those gained from achieving recommended levels of physical activity. Nature is one of the best resources we have to take care of ourselves as it’s free, effective and accessible to all of us. We’ve collated some ideas to help you find your own way to experience and connect with nature, indoors and out.


Enjoy your favourite activities outdoors

We’re now used to getting out for a walk during our day, but why not try some other activities outdoors? We have fantastic green spaces surrounding us, from Bourne Valley to the Purbecks, or find a favourite spot in your local park or woods.

Add even more tranquillity to your usual yoga or pilates sessions by giving them a go outside.  If you want to get creative, absorb your surroundings by writing a poem, story or taking out some pencils and trying to sketch something.


Simply exist, outdoors

There can be a lot of pressure to fill our time productively, but taking some time away from a schedule is vitally important. Remember to take time out for yourself and enjoy the feel of the fresh air while simply existing in nature.

With air and light pollution levels dropping through lower car use, you might want to consider stargazing. Stargazing has been shown to foster inspiration and imagination, as well as increasing happiness. 


Grow something

a daisy in long grass

Whether you have a garden or not, caring for and growing plants can be very uplifting and isn’t always as hard as you may think. If you have a garden, look into planting vegetables. If you don’t, there are so many plants to grow indoors. Snake plants, spider plants, aloe and peace lilies are some of the easiest species to care for, and having plants indoors can boost our mood, creativity, and air quality.  

If you’re not able to take a trip to the garden centre, you can also grow from vegetable scraps. Food Network Revolution have tips on how to grow 19 different foods from their leftovers pieces, whether pineapple heads or carrot tops or garlic cloves; most only require a bowl of water to get started. Seeing fresh green leaves sprouting from a would-be-wasted lettuce root provides a quiet joy!
Bring nature indoors

As well as filling your space with potted plants or growing avocado pits, there are many ways to bring nature inside. Studies have shown that being surrounded by items from nature improve our productivity. This can be through finding a comfortable space to sit where you have a view of trees or the sky, or taking photos of your favourite places in nature and sticking them around your workspace, or as your desktop background.

Equally, don’t be afraid to go foraging. Decorate your work and living space with natural materials like fallen pine cones, leaves, bark or seeds to bring the peace of nature to you.


Expand your knowledge

With light, sound and air pollution lower than it has been in years, why not take advantage and find out more about animals, plants and how you interconnect? Here are some suggestions:

  • Do some research and start identifying the birds you see out of the window, getting tuned in to their calls. RSPB’s bird identifier will help you spot 408 species of birds in the UK.
  • Find out about the different types of plants and trees around so you can identify them in your garden or local spaces. Which species are native to Dorset? This tool can help get you started.
  • Learn to find edible plants and try food foraging; the Woodland Trust have some great guidance to get started.
  • Find out how plants can be used as home remedies. For example, ginger and mint are often consumed as natural remedies for an upset stomach, cramps and indigestion while some studies have shown rosemary to suppress allergy symptoms and garlic to combat sicknesses including the common cold. If there’s a particular natural food that you love, see if it has benefits you didn’t realise – even if used simply as a perfect excuse to enjoy it.

For more tips on how to maintain your wellbeing during this time, please visit the BU website.