Earilier this year results were published from a project lead by Kings College London, into to effects of the outdoors on our mental health. Using smartphone data the Uban Mind app collected real time data on the impact of nature on mental wellbeing.
- Being outdoors, seeing trees, hearing birdsong, seeing the sky, and feeling in contact with nature were associated with higher levels of mental wellbeing.
- The beneficial effects of nature were especially evident in those individuals with greater levels of impulsivity who are at greater risk of mental health issues.
How do we start to incorporate a better connection to the outdoors in to our everyday life? Here are some suggestions:
- Wear your tourist specs: when on holiday we tend to stroll along, taking in the sights and sounds, trying to soak up as much as we can about our new surroundings. Why not try it on your commute to or from work. Slow it down for a couple of minutes rather than following the same route and routine, look up, look at the buildings, see the sky, are there any trees along the road? what shade of green are they, shape of the leaves? what can you hear? are there any birds singing? you might have to listen through the traffic. Try and spot one new or beautiful thing each day.
- Eat lunch in the park: Have a break, find a bench and look around. How many colours and shades can you see, does the air taste or feel different.
- Feed the birds: If you can’t feed them at home, why not take some seed to the local park or even set up a feeding station at work for everyone to enjoy. It’s not just good for us, out feathered friends will be very grateful.
- Touch a tree: once you start to notice, you will see trees everywhere. Our city streets are so green and lush, why not take a second to connect. you don’t have to sign up to be a fully fledged member pf the tree hugger society, just touch the truck, is the bark rough or smooth? what colour is it? is there anything growing on it?
Lets see if nature can really help us deal with this modern life!
For more info on the Urban Minds Project.