This piece is from guest blogger Megan Tarbuck, you can find Meg on Instagram @_megsjournal for all things nature and sustainability. Thanks for this piece Meg! Enjoy everyone <3
I’ve always found a subtle fascination with nature, as children we are eager to explore and find many small joys in existing in the beautiful outdoors. Fast forward to my teens and life begins to speed up with social interactions and new priorities. The fascination with the outdoors seemingly pushed to the back of my mind, only resurfacing for an occasional sunset photo on my Instagram story or outdoor aesthetic upload. Fast forward again to lockdown one and we’re all stuck inside with small exceptions, my favourite being a daily walk. For many of us in the UK pre-pandemic life was so fast, what use was a daily walk for productivity or making money? As life began to regain pace, I made a small commitment to myself, to educate myself and show both appreciation and gratitude for the nature on my doorstep.
I can only speak on behalf of my own experiences when I say I owe A LOT to nature in terms of my self-care and peace. It’s also important to remember places like parks and areas of beauty themselves are not always accessible to everybody, with many societal groups and identities facing invisible barriers to spending time outside. Using these areas highly depends on privileges in feeling safe, having the time, and living close to areas of well-maintained nature. When I speak about nature itself, I’m talking about any interaction with the natural world. This could be a night sky full of stars, an insta story worthy sunrise, plants, birds, bees, trees and both animals found in the city and countryside.
I began by keeping walking as a pastime post-lockdown, sometimes I felt like this was a complete waste of my time, but theories suggest time outside can be so beneficial to us. Nature is depicted in science as restorative to the human state of mind, the tonic to living in busy cities and towns. Delving further into this topic you’ll come across the ART, the Attention Restoration Theory which theorises that nature has renewing capabilities for both our focus and concentration! Not only does the theory imply the regenerative capabilities of natural features and settings, but it also pays homage to the idea of a “soft fascination”. Giving our focus to the clouds, sunsets, birdsong or even picking up leaves and pinecones can subtly distract us from the stresses running internally through our brain.
I started these walks for some fresh air and the “time away from the screen” kind of vibe. Yet the more I got outside my interests and fascination grew and grew. Here I am at 23 an obsessed amateur wildlife spotter, a hobby pre-pandemic me would never have invested so much time into. I found the more time I recharged outside, the more insects and plants I noticed. I’d embarked on a journey I never knew I needed to take, the one that started to repair my relationship with nature.
It’s important to remember still that nature is not a solving medicine to internal conflicts or mental health issues any of us face, but the repairing of our relationships with the natural world can lead to many benefits for both parties as you start to undergo a transition of thinking that we are too a part of the environment and not a separate entity.
Some open access sources for further reading:
Restoration Theory : read the article here
Connecting people with nature : read the research here
Natural England, how 2 hours outside a week is good for your health : read the piece here
Hope you enjoyed this guest piece – I absolutely love reading about nature and how good it is for our wellbeing, it really inspires me to look after our natural spaces. Thanks again to our guest blogger Meg for this piece. Happy reading, El xx