Make the most of your spring walks whilst keeping safe
Tips to keep yourself and other nature lovers safe as you spot the signs of spring!
As we step into spring 2020, we can all appreciate the season whether that be from our window, garden or during our daily walk. This period of social distancing, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, can make us appreciate our daily walks, local paths and the outdoor experience more than ever.
We’ve been advised to stay away from busy areas which means that some people are wandering away from pavements into quieter places. Doing this brings opportunities to see more of nature, discover new places on our doorsteps and say an appropriately distanced hello to other locals as you pass.
Spending time outdoors in fresh air, like in local greenspace, local paths or local streets, can work wonders to improve your mood and manage your emotions, reduce feelings of stress or anxiety, and make you feel more relaxed.
Did you know that being around trees can boost your immune system? Something that could come in handy right now! Trees emit organic compounds called phytoncides which can help improve our immune system when we breathe them in.
Connecting with nature
A recent survey from the National Trust found that people who take part in ‘noticing nature’ activities, such as smelling wildflowers or watching wildlife, are happier and have a greater feeling that life is worthwhile.
Whether we are outdoors or indoors, we can find ways to continue to benefit from the calming effects of nature.
If you are self-isolating, make a brew and spend some time by the window, if it feels right open it, and take notice of what’s happening. What can you hear, see, feel and smell?
If you have access to a garden, you could sit outside for some fresh air, do some light gardening or feed the birds. It is fine to talk with neighbours over the fence but keep a minimum two meters apart.
Try some of these activities whilst on your walk to help you boost your mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
What can you see?
During your walk, take note of any wild animals or interesting plant species you can see. This could be birds flying overhead, insects crawling on the pavement or spring wildflowers beginning to grow.
What can you hear?
Walk quietly and notice the natural sounds, listen for things like the wind, leaves rustling, bird songs, water moving or animal sounds, anything that’s natural.
What can you smell?
Notice if you catch any natural smells during your walk. Maybe spring flowers, maybe sea water if you live by the coast or maybe that classic ‘fresh air’ odour if you’re walking on a breezy day
What can you feel?
Living in Scotland, we can often feel all seasons in one. During your walk, notice the elements, can you feel the wind blowing you, the sun on your skin, or even the rain dripping off your jacket or brolly!
Try out some of these free resources to help you, your family or friends connect with nature:
- Take part in a nature photo scavenger hunt by the Woodland Trust (not just for kids!)
- Even seeing pictures of parks can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure, and Greenspace Scotland are sharing ‘a daily dose of greenspace’ on social media. Find out more here
- Watch out for wildlife with the bird identifying guide
- Read this blog on how we can take notice of nature. A list of useful apps can be found on the Highland Green Health Partnership’s website
- Notice nature week by week from The National Trust
- Finding a friend in nature blog by Professor Miles Richardson
- Make space for nature by Scottish Natural Heritage