NATURE IS NEVER FAR AWAY - PUT A SPRING IN YOUR STEP
17 September 2021
Many of us have been experiencing challenging times recently and have had to look just a little bit harder for the positives. However, one constant source of inspiration and motivation for us, as you might know, is nature! And nature is never far away, whether it be your garden if you're lucky enough to have access to one, the local park or even your nature strip. When times feel tough, we know we can look to nature to re-energise, restore and reconnect us.
Time in nature is an antidote for stress; it can lower blood pressure and stress levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood.
In a recent paper, 26 authors laid out a framework to create a formal role for the positive impacts nature has on mental health and to formulate a model for conserving nature in cities.
Spring is in the air and we can smell and see the changes going on all around us. Trees are bursting into leaf and flower, birds are nesting and the world is waking from its winter slumber. What better time to get the entire family away from the screens and into nature to watch it change before their very eyes?
An exciting activity some of our team like to do with their families is selecting a tree nearby, just coming into leaf and taking a photo of it every day for 3 weeks. If you timelapse these photos using a phone app, you can see the tree bursting into bloom in 20 seconds - an amazing sight!
They say the sap rises in spring, and it certainly does in birch trees! There are many silver birches dotted about our parks and public spaces and over a couple of special weeks in spring, the sap runs so strongly in these trees you can tap it and fill a litre bottle in a matter of hours!
The sweet, delicious birch sap can be consumed like water - it has medicinal properties and contains a wide array of naturally occurring electrolytes, minerals and micro-nutrients!
Our favourite way to appreciate the birch tree's delicate flavour is to freeze it in an icecube tray and have it with soda water!
How well do you know the plants in your garden or neighbourhood? Your family can become expert plant trackers with our PlantNet app. It helps you learn how to identify plants by their twigs, bark, leaves and fruits. Try it out next time you go for a walk or explore your backyard and see which plants you share your space with.
It's not just the plants springing to life this month; birds and insects in our local parks are busily setting up their shelters to make the most of the warmer weather. If you cast your eyes skyward, you're sure to spot a nest or two. But make sure you're careful - the territorial magpies and plovers and nesting too and they will swoop if they feel you are getting too close to their nests.
Photo by Andy Macbeth.
Eating well during times of stress is vital for wellbeing. Spring is the perfect time to start your own vegetable garden; plant some tomatoes, carrots or broccoli! If you do not have access to a yard, a plastic bucket and soil or potting mix will do the trick!
If you can't get your hands on a bucket of soil, try this fun and eco-friendly trick. Buy your next bunch of spring onions with good roots attached and when you have cut off and used the upper green parts, place the white stems with roots attached in a glass of water on a sunny windowsill. In a week or two, the green parts will have regrown and you'll have grown your own spring onion!
Photo by Andy Macbeth.
There are countless ways to experience nature – the sky is the limit. Connecting your family to nature and the food they eat through fun activities and projects is a welcome antidote to increased screen time and extended periods spent indoors.
If we take the time to focus and engage with the natural world around us, we appreciate the beauty and sense of wellbeing it offers, as well as the delicious delights it provides us and the lessons it teaches us. Put a spring in your step and reconnect with the natural world at your doorstep.