The last few weeks have seen some unprecedented and disruptive changes to our daily lives in a bid to keep us safe and lessen the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK is currently in lockdown and it’s uncertain how long this will last. What is certain is that the current situation, and the advice regarding social distancing and self-isolation, will have a massive impact on our overall sense of wellbeing.

We all know – and there is scientific evidence to prove this – that spending time in nature is beneficial to both our mental and physical wellbeing. As a wildlife trust, encouraging people to engage with nature is core to what we do. And on the Wellbeing Programme, it is through our nature-based activities that we aim to improve the mental wellbeing of those who are struggling the most with their mental health.

Our opportunities to engage with nature may be fewer during the pandemic but there are still a number of things we can do to stay connected to nature, look after our wellbeing, and keep safe.

On the Wellbeing Programme we use the ‘Six Ways to Wellbeing’ to guide the range of activities we provide – although these are usually carried out on our nature reserves and in groups, they can easily be adapted for the current situation we find ourselves in:


Image credit: Wheel of Wellbeing - South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

Why not try a few and let us know how you get on?

  1. Stay active

If you can, go outside for your daily exercise, whether a walk, run or cycle – the fresh air and sunlight will boost your mood. If you’re not able to go outside, and the weather permits it, try exercising near an open window to gain the same benefits. If you have a garden or outdoor space there’ll be plenty of tasks you can get involved in to keep busy in the fresh air. And if you don’t, consider bringing nature indoors. House plants can be a valuable mood booster and looking after them will mean spending time by the windows where you’ll benefit from natural daylight.

  1. Take notice

Whilst outside – or if you can’t go outside, from a window – take notice of the changes taking place in nature. Observe birds and their flight patterns or behaviour; take time to appreciate the changing formations of clouds; tune into the sounds of nature – bird song or the wind swooshing through trees; marvel at the range of colours on a single leaf or petal. You could take this further and record your findings in a journal, adding sketches or taking photographs. Get creative and compose a collage of natural items you may find in your garden or walk, or try leaf rubbing or flower pressing.

  1. Keep learning

Find out more about the species you’re observing when outdoors or from your window. How many different birds can you identify? How many different types of butterfly can you see? There are plenty of wildlife guides available online to help you identify different species. Or how about catching up on wildlife documentaries using streaming services?

  1. Look after the planet

Even though our minds may be preoccupied with other matters, caring for the planet is still a top priority! Perhaps more importantly than ever is to think carefully about what we’re buying, how often and where from. Buy what you need, when you need it, and keep recycling and reusing as much as possible.

  1. Stay connected

With everyone keeping their distance, it’s more important than ever to stay connected to friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues. If you have access to technology, use it to keep in touch with others. Texting and emailing is great but nothing beats face-to-face communication. Most communication tools have options for video calling, and other apps are enabling a number of people to keep in touch at the same time, like the video conferencing app Zoom.

  1. Give back

Giving to others is beneficial not only to those receiving, but also to those who are giving. Giving makes us feel good and helps us feel connected to others. During lockdown, and depending on your circumstances, our opportunities to ‘give back’ to the community may be limited. But you can also give back by staying connected – share what you’ve been up to with your friends, family and the wider community – share your wildlife photographs, nature-based crafts, or observations you’ve made about nature, etc. All this can help nurture connectivity with others.

And if you have children at home, make sure you involve them in all of these activities. Add a nature focus to their home learning experience – go searching for mini-beasts or hold a scavenger hunt, get them involved in wildlife gardening, get creative with natural items and crafty with recyclables, or simply hold lessons outdoors! All of these activities will add to their wonder and knowledge about the natural world and the environment.

The Wellbeing Programmes will resume in line with government and public health advice. If you feel you would benefit from being involved, please contact the team by emailing [email protected].

Useful links:

Staying active

Sports England is running a new campaign ‘Stay In, Work Out’, providing tips, advice and guidance on how to keep or get active during lockdown, both indoors at home and outdoors.

PE lessons with Body Coach Joe Wicks is proving very popular with school age children – his sessions are available for free via You Tube

For tips on gardening as well as information on the best house plants, visit Gardeners’ World website.

Keep learning

The RSPB has a useful online bird identification guide

Butterfly Conservation also provides an online guide for butterflies

To catch up on a range of nature documentaries, tune in to BBC iplayer

You can also visit the Earth Touch News Network website for links to various live web cam feeds from across the globe.

Volunteering

For information on volunteering opportunities in Wiltshire, including how to register your interest to be a Covid-19 Response Volunteer, visit Community First’s website

Children activities:

The Scout Association has prepared a wealth of exciting indoor activities for kids to get involved in.

Earthwatch Europe are running a new educational pogramme #WildDays with nature-focused activities to help children learn about the environment from home. Visit www.wild-days.org for information and to join.

Health and wellbeing:

The Scottish Association for Mental Health has a dedicated webpage with useful information on how to stay mentally well during the pandemic.

NHS Apps Library has a list of useful apps and tools (some are free) that can help you stay healthy and well.

All links accessible as of 2 April 2020