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Ten great ways to connect with nature now

Paths for All Development Officer Richard shares why we need to spend more time in nature, and ten ways to connect with nature on your next walk.

Published: 25/05/2021

Every month nature provides us with something spectacular to experience. But May has got to be one of the busiest times for nature. There is so much happening all around us. New growth, new birth, new sights, new sounds.

I think it's time for us all to develop a new relationship with nature, there’s very good reasons for doing so and this is a perfect month to start.

Our species are facing three major challenges, regarded by some as the most important issues of our time.

We are faced with an impending climate emergency, we are losing wildlife at an unimaginable rate across the world and many of us, our friends, or our family members, have challenges with mental health.

For many, these three issues may seem like three distinctly different and unrelated issues, but there is one common thread that links these three major issues, and that is our relationship with nature.

Too many of us view ourselves as separate from nature, the truth is that we are part of nature in the same way the birds that visit our gardens and parks are part of nature. Sadly, we have become disconnected.

The good news is that we can reconnect with nature and have a jolly good time in the process.

There is a growing body of research that has proven beyond doubt that people who have a stronger connection with nature are happier and less anxious. They are more likely to live in a more sustainable way that helps our planet, and they are more likely to do things that help wildlife.

So, by encouraging people to develop a stronger connection with nature, we can contribute towards resolving these three monumental challenges we face.

The key word in all of this is connection. Having a connection with nature is different from just being in nature. To develop this new relationship, we need to go a tiny step further using our senses and emotions to form a bond.

Good examples are taking time to notice the scents in nature, listen to sounds such as a trickling burn or birds calling. Find joy in nature watching animals playing or feeding. Taking time to enjoy a view.

As I say this is a perfect time to start reconnecting ourselves. Here are ten enjoyable, joyful examples of things we can all do now while we are out walking.

  1. Find some bluebells and smell the flowers. You can easily tell the difference between native bluebells and Spanish bluebells by their scent. Spanish bluebells don’t have any.
  2. Find some sweet cicely, crush part of the stem between your fingers, it should remind you of an old fashioned sweet.
  3. Many of our flying insects such as bees and butterflies play a vital roll in ecosystems, responsible for pollinating, plants, trees and much of the fruit and vegetables we eat. Take time to notice them visiting flowers, notice their intricacies and colors and watch how they move.
  4. If you can find an area of pristine grass with no hazards, you could go for a short barefoot walk and notice the sensations in your feet.
  5. Some ducks and other waterfowl may have had their young, find joy in nature by watching them.
  6. Many of our garden birds will be looking for food to feed their chicks, find joy in nature watching them. We can give them a hand by providing food.
  7. Litter can harm wildlife, have compassion for nature by removing litter.
  8. Admire the finer details in nature. Look closely at leaves on trees and flowers, notice the shapes, symmetry, and patterns. Take a photograph and share it with others.
  9. Gather some natural materials, arrange them on the ground to make some art.
  10. There is an abundance of edible plants around, do some research and head out foraging and taste nature.

You can find out more about nature connectedness and the pathways to nature connectedness through these two videos.

Five pathways to nature connection, University of Derby Online Learning

What is nature connectedness? University of Derby Online Learning