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10 ways nature can help you stay healthy and happy during lockdown

Our founder Tim shares some top tips for dealing with lockdown.

Our Great Outdoors just got a little smaller. Vast mountain vistas? Out of bounds. The rejuvenating experience of waking up wild on a hilltop? Out of bounds. Going with the flow paddling your favourite river? Out of bounds.

On the face of it lockdown has cut our opportunities to benefit from the renewal that nature provides. Or has it?

We need to stop treating the natural world as a weekend retreat

Looked at differently the pandemic provides an opportunity to hear Mother Nature’s voice as she reminds us “I am everywhere. We are all connected.” This is a great time to connect to the nature you never normally notice.

We need to stop treating the natural world as a weekend retreat. Nature is everywhere, we just need to be better at tapping its benefits.

Here are 10 ways to use nature and the outdoors to remain healthy and happy during lockdown. And afterwards too!

Solvitur Ambulando and the happy bacteria

Getting out for a walk or a run doesn’t just help with your physical health, it makes a massive difference to your mental health too. The Latin phrase Solvitur Ambulando, literally translated as ‘Walking Solves Everything', shows this understanding is rooted in ancient wisdom.

Being outside allows you to soak up sunshine to synthesise Vitamin D. It also exposes you to a naturally occurring soil bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, which has been used to treat cancer patients and stimulates serotonin production. Here are some suggestions to make the most of it.

    1. The more you can expose yourself to nature whilst you’re out the better. So work in a walk in the local park, or if you’re lucky in the woods, along a river or canal or on the beach. You probably know where these are, but it’s worth checking the Ordnance Survey Green Space Map to see if there are any new places to explore.

    2. Becoming bored with your daily stroll? Get creative and see what you can draw with a tracking app like Strava (you can track your walk too, it’s not just for runners).

    3. Just because you’re ‘working from home’ doesn’t mean you have to work indoors. Why not set up office in the garden? No need to head indoors when the working day ends either, set up camp and sleep out for the night too! During April Northumberland Scouts are hosting a worldwide virtual campout. Garden camping isn't just for kids, anyone can join in.

      Nature balm

      Exercise makes a major contribution to stress reduction, but if you can't get outside just seeing pictures of nature can helps reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

        4. Try adding some birdsong ambience to your working environment. The calming spounds of spring morning in an English woodland are currently playing on repeat in our house. Its worth looping, as I find native species the most resonant, but YouTube will autoplay an international selection. Just right-click on the video and select the ‘Loop’ option.
          5. Take yourself on a virtual adventure. Break out a map, chart a route then search online for photo’s of local sights and scenery. Need some inspiration? Check out the Komoot App to uncover walks and trails followed by adventurous folk like Alastair Humphreys, Anna McNuff and Tom Hill.
            6. Some of our favourite outdoor dwellers are inviting you to share their connection to the natural world online. Do follow Miscellaneous Adventures for regular updates from their woodland and Dr Ruth Allen, aka White Peak Ruth, for great ways to immerse yourself in nature.

              Be happy

              When we spend time outdoors, we stimulate more of the senses dulled by sterile indoor environments which massively helps with our wellbeing. This happens naturally when we’re outside, but you can optimise the effect by boosting your senses through noticing more when you’re out there.

                7. Drawing and sketching nature is a great way to notice more. If it’s been a while since you picked up a pencil in earnest, join illustrator Matt Sewell for one of his live Instagram Spotting and Jotting sessions. Our kids were immediately more interested in the birds in the garden after a session with Matt.

                8. With less traffic around, you'll probably notice more birdsong. This becomes so much more meaningful when you know who’s singing. To get you started, that regular 'Tee-cher, tee-cher' call you hear in woodlands and gardens this time of year is the Great Tit. Learn more with these pointers from the Woodland Trust. Or choose an app to download for when you’re out and about.

                  9. In a similar manner, learning the names of the trees you see is a great way to connect and notice more. Learn your Elder from your Alder with this handy guide.

                    Plan for the future

                    One thing we can take from the lockdown is that life is short and our adventures make for super fulfilling lives during normal times. Start planning your post lockdown adventure now. Anticipation is one of the best bits!

                      10. Use this time to plan something truly memorable for the end of lockdown. If you’re in need of inspiration, check out the online articles from our favourite adventure journals. With these as your jumping off poin, the world is your oyster. Go find somewhere inspiring with the help of: Sidetracked magazine, Another Escape, Ernest Journal, Lodestars Anthology, and newcomers Thin Air Guides. Once you’ve narrowed down your ideal adventure and need some practical advice, it’s hard to beat the Cicerone Guides.

                        I'd be delighted if even one of these suggestions is a tiny bit helpful. Drop me an email if so, use the 'Queries' button at the bottom of the page.

                         

                        Whether in lockdown or not, everything we do is dedicated to helping you live your best life in the great outdoors. Sign up to our email for regular doses of outdoor inspiration.

                         

                        Photo credits:

                        Canalside walk - James Laing, used under Creative Commons

                        Bluebells - Angie Muldowney, used under Creative Commons

                        Bird pictures - Matt Sewell

                        Cloud inversion - Kim Hill

                        April 09, 2020 — tim frenneaux