How to appreciate nature and wildlife at home

PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 May 2020

Not being able to go out, doesn't mean you have to sacrifice on your nature fix (c) Tom Marshall

Not being able to go out, doesn't mean you have to sacrifice on your nature fix (c) Tom Marshall

Tom Marshall

Appreciating nature and wildlife can be a huge boost to our wellbeing, and that doesn’t have to stop if you’re stuck inside. There are many ways to bring nature to you, and let it cleanse your soul and calm your mind…

Consider gardening as a mindful, meditative process (c) Matthew RobertsConsider gardening as a mindful, meditative process (c) Matthew Roberts

This spring has been an urbulent time for everyone, where our normal routines have been shaken up until they’re unrecognisable. We have all found ourselves going through times of extreme stress and worry, whether for ourselves or our friends and loved ones. In times of stress, it is particularly important to take time out to consider your physical and mental wellbeing, and nature can be a huge help in this. Though many of our worlds have suddenly shrunk to a scrap of their former sizes, there are still ways to bring the joys of nature to you, even if you are unable to venture far from your home.

First thing’s first – stop for a moment. Look out of the nearest window, open it. Feel the soft breeze on your face and take a deep, slow breath. Feel the warmth of the sun on your eyelids, or immerse yourself in the sound of falling rain. Can you hear the sound of birds singing? What about the buzzing of a nearby bee? What can you smell – the scent of fresh rain, or the salty tang of the sea? Can you see flowers in your garden, bright green leaves on trees, the dazzling blue of the summer sky? Take the time to soak it all in – nature keeps going, even though we’ve been forced to stop.

The 5-4-3-2-1 technique is a popular method of managing anxiety, and involves taking the time to notice individual things around you using all five of your senses. By focusing on this activity and things that physically exist in the world, it can make you feel more grounded when your current situation is unsettled. Nature can be comforting in unfamiliar times precisely for its familiarity and regularity – the sun always rises in the east and sets in the west, the birds always sing, the grass always grows, the tides always go in and out. If you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, use this technique to notice the nature you can see, smell, hear and maybe even touch to help you regain a feeling of calm and control.

If you do have your own outside space, try and spend as much time in it as possible. This could just be relaxing with a good book, doing some exercise, eating your lunch or having a cup of tea. Even better would be finding a way to help nature whilst nature is helping you. Gardens, yards and possibly even window boxes can be a haven for us, but they should be important havens for wildlife too – particularly if you live in a largely urban neighbourhood.

You can connect with nature, even in the smallest of spaces. (c) David TiplingYou can connect with nature, even in the smallest of spaces. (c) David Tipling

Wildlife gardening is when you create a natural space in your garden, balcony or front porch which is equally as beneficial for wildlife as it is for you. You can do this by planting wildlife-friendly plants like native flowers for visiting bees, setting up bird feeders and bird baths, using peat-free compost and avoiding pesticides, creating a miniature pond for aquatic wildlife and letting corners of your gardens go a bit messy and wild (wildlife doesn’t like things to be overly neat and tidy!). Go to ywt.‌org.‌uk/‌actions for a whole host of guides on creating the perfect space for wildlife, and having loads of fun whilst doing it!

If you can’t venture outside, then bring the joys of nature inside to you. There are endless wildlife books, magazines and TV programmes available for you to read and watch, and there has never been a better time to scrub up on your wildlife knowledge. Watch Gardeners World or Springwatch on the BBC, or catch up with David Attenborough documentaries on Netflix. Search for videos on YouTube or follow some new wild accounts on social media.

Dip into Lucy McRobert’s book 365 Days Wild to be inspired as to how you can bring a little bit of wildness to your life every day, or get lost in Julian Hoffman’s book Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save our Wild Places (featuring Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s own Askham Bog!) and find passion in a new cause. Though we are currently confined to our homes and local spaces (at time of going to press), it’s incredibly important to not get stuck entirely in your present and look forward to the future – all the exploring, discovering and learning you’re going to do once again.

Did you know that one of the great benefits of becoming a member of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is that you receive an exclusive magazine every season? Wildlife Yorkshire magazine is full of features, guides, hints and tips on enjoying and exploring all of Yorkshire’s best wildlife, including all 100+ of our amazing nature reserves. Though you may not be able to explore them today, why not have a nosy around digitally and make a list of all of the ones you want to explore once you’re able.

The wonderful thing about nature and wildlife is that it’s always there, to help you through your darkest times and give you hope for a wilder future. Remember, Yorkshire’s wildlife and wild places will always be there to welcome you home. 

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