Nature Boosts Wellbeing

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Summer view of the WILD Center frontyard.

Getting outside and walking in nature will help you find a sense of place — a sense of wellbeing. I’m fortunate enough to walk with nature just by going out into my backyard. Photo by Donna VanBuecken

Merry Christmas! I hope you had a good celebration and are now looking forward to a re-energized New Year. And, even if it’s cold outside, don’t forget to get outside. Go for a walk. Be with nature — it’ll improve your wellbeing.

Nature and Wellbing

One of the arguments Wild Ones members have always made when we talk to others about the benefits of using native plants in natural landscaping is how good it makes us feel — how it gives us a sense of place. I’ve never really felt comfortable trying to explain that personal statement. I know how being outside and observing the wonder of nature makes me feel, but I haven’t been comfortable trying to explain that feeling to others.

I ran across a report the other day that helps to support that statement. It’s a report on research done in the United Kingdom. Published in 2017, it was a study by the University of Essex aimed at establishing The Wildlife Trusts’* contribution to human wellbeing — personal and mental. As is the case with most research, the study was conducted scientifically, and established methods to be used to continue to gather additional information in the future.

The Study

Although this initial study included only 139 people, the researchers found significant improvement in wellbeing during the 12 week period, with the greatest improvement being from people who had not previously had contact with Wildlife Trust activities.

“Half of the people who started with low mental wellbeing improved after 12 weeks, and two-thirds noticed improvement within six weeks. Across all volunteers, there was a ‘statistically significant improvement of 8 percent in wellbeing scores.’ Participants reported ‘enhanced level of positivity, health, nature relatedness, activity, and increased contact with green space.’ They especially enjoyed participating in conservation activities and learning new skills, which is a well-known way to improve wellbeing.” (Treehugger)

Conclusions

This study concluded that getting out and doing things in nature makes people feel better. I agree with Treehugger when it says this study should be a useful for “policy-makers, medical professionals, and educators to understand how truly powerful nature can be.” And how important nature’s role is in human life. Hopefully this study and future studies such as this will help shape decisions about conservation and the preservation of green space.

I don’t know if knowing the conclusion of this study helps me explain a sense of place or the feeling I get from being in nature any better, but at least I know I’m “on the right track.”

Click here to read the complete study The health and wellbeing impacts of volunteering with The Wildlife Trusts.

*There are 46 Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and Alderney. Each Wildlife Trust is an independent charity set up to help look after wildlife and wild places and help people get closer to nature. (WildlifeTrusts.org)

Five Ways to Wellbeing

Connect – attend a native plant conference. Vendors and exhibitors will be on hand to answer questions. Conference attendees are always willing to share their stories. Photo by Donna VanBuecken

While researching this subject for my post, I ran across a number of articles and websites on wellbeing. Many of them referred to the five ways to wellbeing. I didn’t know there was such a classification and thought this might be news to you as well. Here they are:

Connect – with people. Invest time in developing and building connections. They will support and enrich you every day.

Be active — step outside. Go for a walk, cycle, garden, dance. Physically moving makes one feel good.

Take notice — be aware. Really notice the changing seasons, the beauty around you and the people and things with which you interact.

Keep learning — do something new. Sign up for a class, fix something broken, cook a new food, read a how-to book… Learning boosts confidence.

Give — do something nice. Say thank you. Volunteer your time. Giving requires you to embrace the previous four points of wellbeing.

There it is in a nutshell. As we dwell upon their full meaning, let’s use these five key points to help improve our wellbeing as we get through this most hectic of months of the 2018 calendar year.

Note: I didn’t review all the websites I found from my website search, but I did notice that most of them came from non-USA locations. Here’s one link from California Mind/Carlisle Eden.

 

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