5 Steps You Can Take to Get Closer to Nature – Guest blog by Sophie Pavelle
Sophie is a 23-year old Zoologist with a passion for science communication. Specialising in the relationship between adventure and science, Sophie embarks on local expeditions and adventures making short documentaries and video blogs about the environment and wildlife she encounters. She hopes that sharing her adventures will inspire others to connect with the natural world and develop a passion for conserving it.
- Make time for the outdoors and disconnect
Tweeting, texting, status-updating is rapidly permeating our daily, or rather #instadaily, routines. In fact, you may feel at a loss without it, with research reporting the average British adult spends more time using technology than sleeping. Of course I am guilty of this, but what if we put away the screen for a while and head outside?
I feel modern society has been somewhat late to the table in recognising the powerful health benefits of getting close to nature. ‘Life’ gets in the way; screens distracting, relationships confusing. Simply stepping outside without your phone and re-tuning your senses to see what nature is up to, can immediately re-focus your mind and make you feel close to nature.
Consider heading outdoors at times when wildlife is most active and people are less likely to be around. Dawn and dusk wanders can be truly rewarding times to spot wildlife. Perhaps take a notebook, a pair of binoculars and an ID guide to help you understand what you’re seeing!
- Exercise outside
Who knew that right outside your door is an amazing natural gym that is totally free?! As well as spending time outside, viewing the outdoors as an opportunity to get fit (especially after all those mince pies!!) and increase your strength is a great chance to get you close to nature.
Hiking is a wonderful opportunity to witness wildlife, fresh air and be rewarded with incredible views. The average person can burn around 400-600 calories per hour of hiking, so you can make some serious gains whilst benefitting from all that nature has to offer.
Think about occasionally switching up your mode of transport – is there any way that you can cycle to work a few times a week? Or cycle to a friend’s house instead of getting behind the wheel? It doesn’t have to be every day, but you’ll really notice the difference that outdoor exercise brings to your daily mind-set and positivity.
- Cut down the plastic in your life
Although not directly getting you close to nature, becoming environmentally-minded in your daily routines and consumer habits can directly benefit the environment and secure a brighter future for wildlife.
The war against plastic is now a near daily headline, with new scientific research shedding light on the immense and complex disruption plastic waste is inflicting on marine food webs and environments.
Switching single-use plastic bottle for reusable alternatives is a sure-fire way to reduce your plastic consumption. Similarly buying a reusable coffee mug will not only stop you using single-use take-away coffee cups, but will also keep your coffee hotter for longer! Cotton shopping bags, hard soaps and shampoos, bamboo toothbrushes, steel straws…there is a lot of small changes we can make, that amount to big, positive change for our environments!
When you next head outdoors, why not spend two minutes picking up any litter you see? Plastic is sadly infiltrating even the most remote locations and habitats, so doing our bit can really make a difference – and make you feel in touch with your local environments.
- Get to know your local area and wildlife hotspots
There is nothing more satisfying than realising a secret wildlife hotspot and areas of natural beauty right on our doorstep. It’s important to spend time exploring your local surroundings before venturing further afield – you might be surprised at what you find!
With over 220 National Nature Reserves (NNR’s), RSPB reserves and over 2,000 nature reserves run by The Wildlife Trusts, the UK is one of the best places to experience a multitude of different habitats and unique wildlife, all relatively close together.
- Get your green fingers on!
Nothing gets you into nature more than getting a bit of mud under your fingernails! Planting something, be it a house plant such as a succulent or rows of daffodils ready for spring, is one of the best ways to help you establish a connection with the rhythms and routines of the natural world. Plants need nurturing and attention, so looking after one is a simple but effective activity to help you feel in touch with your green side.
Perhaps take weekly photographs of the growth of your plants to help you keep track of its progress, maybe even share your gardening efforts on social media now and again and inspire your friends and family!