Nature and Mental Wellbeing – Part 4: Projects to get involved in and overcoming barriers!
Last week we spent a bit of time thinking about how to get involved, mostly at an individual level. In this blog I’m going to think about some projects and how we can overcome some of the barriers to building our connection with nature.
Where to start!? There are so many projects out there that can help us connect with nature a bit more. Some are big, some are small. Lots are local, so it might be worth looking to see if there is anything set up near where you live if you are interested.
There are just tons of things that you can do but I have summarised a few ideas below. It might be there are some things that sound appealing and others that wouldn’t suit you as much. That’s fine! Also it might be that you’re really interested in something that isn’t on the list… Go for it!
Take part in a nature survey
There are tons of these but to get you started:
Bumble Bees – https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/surveys/
Flowers and plants – http://www.npms.org.uk/
Butterfly’s – http://www.bigbutterflycount.org/
Volunteer for a conservation project
Again, there are lots to get involved with across the country. For example:
Wild Life Trust – http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/volunteer
The Conservation Volunteers – https://www.tcv.org.uk/volunteering
Surfers Against Sewerage – https://www.sas.org.uk/take-action/
Ground Work – https://www.groundwork.org.uk/
Care farming – https://www.carefarminguk.org
Walking for Health – https://www.walkingforhealth.org.uk/
The Wilderness Foundation – https://wildernessfoundation.org.uk/
Getting over those barriers
It’s not always easy to find the time or space for reconnecting with nature. This is especially true in our busy lives, filled with demands from work, home, social media etc. Plus changing our personal habits can be hard in its own right. It might be that we find it hard to be around other people or find physical activities difficult. The truth is, often it’s not easy. At the same time, there are potentially some pretty decent benefits to this stuff, so it might be worth thinking about how we can overcome some of the barriers. Below are some ideas around how we might do just that.
Don’t take on too much at once and start small!
To start with at least, try out things that we know we like, find relaxing or think we might enjoy
Keep it simple! Don’t worry about doing something super complicated.
Try some of this stuff with other people. This can benefit them and make it more pleasurable for everyone. This could be friends, co-workers or family – anyone who you think might be keep to come along and get connected!
Try to keep an open mind – you never know what you might end up enjoying!
Be flexible! If you can’t get outside, bring nature inside. If you can’t do things you used to be able to do, try something new or a different version of what you had been doing that you can do now
Plan ahead! When thinking about doing outdoors stuff especially, check the weather forecast and think about the things you might need to bring or do (e.g. waterproofs, sunscreen, maps, water or making sure people know where you are and that you have access to a phone). It’s important to be safe!
There are often communities that can help you get started. When we’re not sure about something it can be helpful to try connecting with others – think finding out information, swapping seeds, taking cuttings etc
Think about your own preferences. For example, are you a morning person or an evening person? Do you prefer to be with big groups of people or a more quiet environment? Being aware of ourselves can be helpful to direct what to try, when to do it and who to do it with
Don’t worry if it doesn’t go to plan. There are so many ways that we can reconnect with nature. Try something new and see how you go
So, we’re almost done with the nature and mental wellbeing blog. It’s been a journey for me and I hope it’s been interesting for you too. In the final blog I’ll reflect on the journey and the idea that what can be good for us can be good for nature too!
I hope you enjoyed this one. If you feel worried about any of the information here you can have a look at our resources page for contacts which might be helpful.
See you next week for the next instalment.