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Switch off and take a walk in nature

Paths for All Development Officer Fran tells us about a new initiative to encourage staff to switch off their devices and connect with nature.

Published: 27/05/2024

At the beginning of May, along with my colleagues Paulina & Tom,  I was delighted to be able to launch our ‘Walk in Nature - Digital Detox and Nature Connectedness’ campaign for Paths for All staff. This initiative was developed as part of our internal Health and Wellbeing working group at Paths for All.

We felt it was important for us during National Walking Month this year, which also includes Mental Health Awareness Week (13 May 2024 – 19 May 2024) and Green Health Week (11 May 2024 – 18 May 2024) to encourage staff to take a break away from devices, to take some time to connect and notice nature through adopting the Five Pathways to Nature Connectedness.

  • Sensory contact with the natural world
  • Finding an emotional bond with, and love for, nature
  • Taking time to appreciate the beauty of nature
  • Thinking about the meaning and signs of nature
  • Showing compassion and care for nature

So, how are we actually going to do this? Starting on the 7th May, we began each week with simple, positive messages, sharing a pathway through our internal staff channels – such as Slack message boards and weekly staff meetings - with associated activity suggestions of how people could get involved, which could be anything from forest bathing, smelling the flowers, noticing the light at different times of the day or observing cloud formations, to reducing waste and litter picking.

Staff are also encouraged to record their experiences in a way that suits them, whether that is by taking photos, drawing or note taking and sharing these via our internal channels.  We have also created a ‘Walk in Nature Wall’ in our office space where people are encouraged to post and share their experiences.

In the first week of the campaign we looked at ways to connect and tune in to nature through our Senses.  Staff were encouraged to stop, observe, listen and feel. The Paths for All Noticing Nature Mini Guide provided staff with some great activity suggestions to get involved with.  Staff were encouraged, regardless of the activity they chose, to take a break, slow down and notice nature by turning into their senses.

Our Walking for Health team took part in a bark and leaf rubbing activity.  After returning to the office and as individuals shared their results by posting on the ‘Walk in Nature Wall’, we witnessed colleagues connecting, creating a positive energy and giving their own wellbeing a boost through time spent in nature.

‘Urged by the campaign to take time to notice nature, the need to soak in the quiet and enjoy the calm, I was inspired to capture moments from my walks.

‘I looked beyond the path and the bigger picture for the smaller, quieter and intimate details and textures we can sometimes miss.  Searching for the little moments gave me space and time to reflect, relax and notice the sights and sounds.  I found my mind quieten, and I relaxed’.

Member of Paths for All staff team.