Reflecting in Lockdown
Lockdown may have given you time to re-evaluate about what is important and how you look after yourself. Some people found the time to exercise outdoors gave some solace in the green space nearby, sharing paths and places previously overlooked.
‘There were significant impacts on nature. As the world slowed during lockdowns, there were reports of wildlife in areas normally busy with people. This was not only in urban areas; puffins on the Farne Islands are one example of wildlife thriving in a deserted national park. In the UK daily exercise of a walk or cycles ride enabled many people to connect with nature in their local area. Reduced traffic noise meant that bird song could be heard in usually busy streets and road kill declined.’
p12 ‘Covid-19 Environment, Justice and the Future’ E198 Grove
University of Derby conducted research that found nature connectionedness is as important for wellbeing as income and education (Capaldi).
What can something as simple as nature connection do in improving our mental health? In connecting to nature we improve our sense of wellbeing. If you think of your mental health as variable to each person and each situation then self-care in simple ways is something we need to practice.
‘Do not underestimate the importance of preventative work.’ Angela Kerry, Policy Officer, Derbyshire Mental Health Forum 21 July 2020.
Mental illness is not always preventable, but to prevent it we can use the 5 ways to wellbeing. Nature connection can help us- connect, be active, wonder, learn and give.
Just take the idea of wonder. We can see more shades of green than any other colour (James Wong on Twitter @Botanygeek). Is that so we can appreciate beauty in the outdoors and value everything from a landscape to a leaf?
Connecting to nature improves the quality of our lives.
Connecting with other human beings can bring perspective but so can feeling tiny as you reach a hilltop and admire the view. Perhaps we can also prevent the inclination to be ego centric and be encouraged in our caring for each other and for creation.
Nature Connectedness what can we do?
It is estimated we have 10,000 churchyards in the Church of England the land equivalent to a small National Park. If you added in private gardens and allotments, it would be bigger still.
Derby University research shows Nature Connection benefits can be measured in both adults and children.
- Notice good things in nature and write them down.
- Nature connection stuck with people 2 months later.
- We look after things we value. In children ‘noticing’ in nature gave rise to increased caring of the environment.
- Feeling better increased: people measurably perceived themselves as happier.
- Nature connection is offered as a social prescription: it works in urban environments.
- Create some good memories outdoors. Nature connection is more powerful than ‘knowing about it’ or contact, it needs to link to us emotionally and meaningfully, tying in to our compassion and aesthetics (beauty).
We treasure what we know and value.
Our beautiful world of human, animal and plant species is under threat, rising extinction of species https://www.ipbes.net/news/ipbes-global-assessment-summary-policymakers-pdf highlighted this before the pandemic. Campaigners are wanting a just return for our people and planet after lockdown.
‘Preserving terrestrial ecosystems on land, in the oceans and in our fresh watercourses, is essential for the survival of the species, including our own. Preserving biodiversity also means researching it....Knowing … will make us understand better and follow a wiser path.’ We are all Greta, chapter 12, Biodiversity.
Collecting- accumulating more and more: a selfish activity, has damaged the planet. This tendency can be funneled into identifying (and not destroying), and appreciating species. Eco church resource https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Land-How-to-Look-After-Your-Land-in-Wildlife-Friendly-Ways.pdf
Sharing our love of nature (treasuring the earth) welcoming the local public and visitors can be part of our mission. We can offer the opportunity to join in, learn, connect, sharing access to a local green space. https://www.churchofengland.org/more/church-resources/churchcare/advice-and-guidance-church-buildings/biodiversity. We can also share our findings/ photos with local organisations recording sightings. Churches Count on Nature week uses the iNaturalist app but you can use it anytime.
Where there is little local public green space Sharing what we have can be of great value: we show solidarity with people facing inequality in our parishes. https://neweconomics.org/2020/05/parks-are-for-everyone
Suggestions to encourage nature connection with the need to follow current guidance to wash hands, social distance etc.
- Share your churchyard or outside space: how do people know they are welcome?
- Link your outside space to citizen science projects, sharing your sightings e.g. arocha_uk , #Wildflowerhour, #WilderDerbyshire, @BTO etc.
- Offer space on outdoor events: a walk, maintenance activity and gardening projects. Link these to the volunteer bureau or the local social prescriber at your GP.
- Share what you have seen. This has been valued by people restricted at home.
- Offer a reason to be outside: for example a downloadable treasure trail aimed at children. Caring for Gods Acre resources and training
- Share a guided walk or route description or route number on your facebook page or social media. Add a facility to lockdownloo.com or the refill app add links https://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/leisure/countryside/access/walking/walks-and-trails/walks-and-trails.aspx?page=1 or greenways https://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/leisure/countryside/access/greenways/greenways.aspx
- Wild Christian resource http://thesanctuarycentre.org/resources/creative_prayer_idea_wild_worship_field_guide.pdf
- Join in with a walking group, a rambling group or an outdoor event in a local nature reserve or park.
- Link to a local wildlife group and find ways to share your space for activities.
- Watch a film at your social zoom such as ‘project wild thing’ and start a small group discussion https://3ak4be4522es3y5i4l2cwfkx-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Lifestyle-How-to-Connect-More-with-Nature.pdf
- Have a creation time worship in the outdoors when restrictions allow it– see 'Whats Happening' section below.
Church of England Resources
Nature Connectedness research Derby University https://www.derby.ac.uk/research/centres-groups/nature-connectedness-research-group/
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust https://www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/wildlife-explorer