Make time for nature

Why LiveWell Coach Susan recommends spending time in nature for your physical and mental wellbeing

The benefits to your physical and mental health of getting out into nature are well known. Visiting green & blue spaces and allowing yourself some time to unwind, relax and be at one with nature, reduces aggression, improves your brain functions including learning, memory and decision making, enhances your immunity - the list is endless. 

I love getting up and out so much, I have even invented a word for it. Dawnerling. Getting up as early as you can, and wandering off somewhere stunning to take a moment and just soak it all in.  Go very quiet and just listen. Not only hearing but feeling and sensing too. Wander off in the woods or a field, sit by a lake, the beach, a river and just hear, smell and feel. Take off your shoes and get grounded. The power of feeling at one with nature is astounding. There's plenty of research to support the benefits of mother nature - but don't take my word for it - or anyone else’s - just do it for yourself. She won't disappoint you. 

How I use my nature time

When you find a quiet spot, stand very still and pay attention to 4 things you can see, then 3 different things you can hear (close your eyes if you want to), 2 things you can touch and 1 you can smell. Being in the country the last one is not guaranteed to be the best.  

I walk early in the morning because I like that feeling that I have the world to myself.  I listen to the birds already busy about their day. I listen to my labouring breath on reaching the top of a hill.  If there is a breeze, I listen to it rustling through the hedges & leaves and feel it on my face. Your blood pressure drops and the cares of the "real" world are shut away for a while. 

I listen to what my body, mind and my heart might be telling me about myself, my health, my hopes and dreams, and what I think my purpose is. We should listen to ourselves more. 

Feel calm, creative, and focused. Breathe deeply. We are part of nature. We need to get back to that.  

There's more to explore

A walk in the woods: If you'd like to discover more take a look at forest bathing.  There are many apps you can use to guide you. A great one is called Wylder - you can set yourself challenges of planting seeds or feeding a hedgehog. Loads of great ideas.  

Give a little of yourself: Volunteering is a way to explore nature too – in the summer I work with different charities counting butterflies, monitoring mayflies & beach cleans. They can be a big social group doing things together, or find yourself sat in a field on your own.  

Bring nature inside: If you’re stuck at work – pop a plant on your desk or flowers – they will make you smile. Get outside in your lunch break. Even if you can't get out into nature - just watching it on TV, looking at photos, listening to sounds of birdsong and the wind in the trees have been shown to have benefits. Even taking care of a pot plant or having a bunch of flowers can work, too. So don't feel stressed if you can’t get out – there are other ways to reap the benefits. 

Find support: Most GP surgeries now have a Social Prescriber you can self-refer to – they can help with ideas for nature-based activities. Or talk to one of our Advisor team. They can help you find similar activities where you live. 


How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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