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With so many screens literally clouding our vision, it’s important for us to step away from technology and enjoy nature. Why? Because of it’s mood-lifting effects! When we’re scrolling through social media on our phones, there are so many opportunities for our moods to lower, from reading a shouty political post to getting jealous about our friends’ holiday snaps.
In this post, author, naturalist and illustrator Emma Mitchell talks about five ways you can use nature to help lift your mood – now put down that phone!
1) Taking 10-15 minutes away from your to do list, work and social media and wandering/sitting in your garden with a brew.
If your garden’s weedy, so much the better – you’re more likely to see bees, butterflies and birds. Simply look at the shapes of the leaves and flowers; allow your mind to drift. Seeing the bees and wildlife in your garden will bring relaxation and lower anxiety and spending time among your plants will cause a range of changes in your body chemistry leading to improved mental health.
2) Putting food out for the birds and again turning social media off and stepping away from chores and simps watching them for 10-15 minutes.
You could record which species are visiting the garden and you could even start to keep a diary of feathered visitors. Watching birds through a window has been shown to lift mood and alleviate anxiety.
3) Go for a walk away from your home in a wood, by the sea, a lake or river.
Turn your phone off, take a pal or family with you and try to identify as many species of butterfly, bird and plant as you can. A woodland environment confers a particularly beneficial range of effects on our mind due to the wide range of plants to be find in such a habitat. Spending time next to water has been shown to lower anxiety and lift mood.
4) Next time you go for a walk or spend time in the garden, look for beautiful seedheads, feathers, flowers (if they’re wild make sure they’re not rare), snail shells, leaves etc – a small seasonal collection.
Bring them home, arrange, identify and photograph them. Making collections is calming and it’s thought that discovering beautiful finds may trigger ancient foraging pathways in our brains, leading to improved mental health.
5) Do a little gardening – plant out, dig over, weed a little.
Contact with the beneficial soil bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae has been show to boost levels of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. We feel more positive when we get our hands or trowels in the soil.
Check back on 28th July 2019 to listen to this podcast episode!