World Environment Day – Connecting People to Nature

As our contribution to World Environment Day – Connecting People to Nature, we are really excited to announce the launch of our Fresh Air Fridays book.

In the book, we invite you to step outside, notice your surroundings and begin to hear yourself again so that you can create the life and wellbeing you want.

Personal experience…

This time seven years ago as a family we were really struggling. Our daughter was battling with anorexia, everyone was stressed and it was hard to have any sort of conversation without conflict. The one exception to this was when we were outside walking in green spaces. As we stepped out of the door and headed through fields or into the woods we all started to relax, conversations that had been tense and seemingly impossible inside were somehow OK outside.

This time in nature became the cornerstone of our daughter’s recovery and started to sow the seed of what is now a vibrant and growing organisation – Fresh Air Fridays. It has become our passion and our purpose “to invite people outside to connect to nature and be able to hear themselves once more.”

The current situation…

My grandmother walked five miles each way to and from her place of work. This was not at all abnormal for her generation. Whilst many of us may commute for a similar amount of time, very few of us in developed countries are walking that distance to work these days. In the last two generations, we have moved away from walking to using vehicles. In addition, our surroundings have become even more built up.

The result is that for many of us we have limited, if any time, in nature. In 2007, for the first time in the history of humanity, more than half the world’s population was living in cities. Access to green spaces has been associated with better health and wellbeing, reduced stress levels and a reduction in depression. One study found that people who used public open spaces are three times more likely to achieve recommended levels of physical activity than those who do not use the spaces (Wolf, 2008).

What we see in our work…

What we see in our work is that when we take people from the foyer of their office block and stand with them under a tree, their body language changes, they start to relax and feel better. When our members arrive, and start a Fresh Air Fridays session, the same things happen. When I took a nature break before editing this article, a walk in the local field had me enjoying thinking about work on a Sunday rather than it feeling like a chore.

What can you do about it?

So how can you start to benefit from nature in your daily life? The good news is that the answers are simple, they just take a bit of forethought and commitment:

  • The first thing is to recognise that being in nature is important to your wellbeing.
  • Put more nature into your indoor spaces. Pot plants make a difference to how you feel, even having nature views on your screen saver can lighten your mood.
  • Schedule some green time into your diary. Make it short so that it happens, you can always make it longer if time permits. Walk to the nearest tree, cemetery, park or waste land. Staying at your desk until the report is finished seems like the most important thing to do. But if you take a 20-minute nature break you are likely to be more productive and effective and less stressed.
  • Where possible take your meeting outside. A conversation with a colleague is likely to be much more productive if you do a once around the nearest patch of grass than sitting in a board room.
  • Even in very built up areas, start noticing where mother nature is poking through. Ruth now sees weeds in a whole new light and appreciates all those green fingered people who tend their window boxes. We bless all the gardeners who spend time taking care of their green spaces so beautifully and are very grateful that we get to appreciate their labours too.
  • Incorporate a longer green time into your weekends. Meet your friends for a stroll in the park rather than a pint, head out for a family picnic, or explore somewhere green that you have never been before.

Fresh Air Fridays book is also available as an E-book

Our book not only supports and encourages you to take time out in nature it explores ideas to enhance your wellbeing and create the life you want to lead.

Download the E-book here.

written by

Ruth Steggles