Great ways to connect with nature

Enjoy the outdoors and take care of yourself during Mental Health Awareness Week, exploring the theme of nature.

10 May 2021

For this year's Mental Health Awareness Week on the theme of nature, we've put together tons of resources to help you enjoy the outdoors and look after yourself, even if you can't venture far.

It's not news to anyone that the last year's been a challenge. We've been stuck spending a lot of time indoors, which was bad enough in itself. One added effect was that we haven't been able to enjoy the outdoors much – that's made us feel even worse.

And no wonder. Did you know that there's a strong connection between the time we spend in nature and how we feel? Research shows we're less stressed, worried and upset when we go for a walk among trees and greenery, or even just listen to the sounds of nature. And in our lockdown research 62% of girls and young women aged 4-18 said being outdoors and in nature has helped them to feel better during the pandemic.

So try out these ideas to help girls get closer to nature - even if there's not a lot of green space nearby.

1. Feed the birds

At our Adventures at home festival last year, Amey showed us all how to build our own birdfeeders. Bring birds to your garden or windowsill, simply by using an empty plastic bottle and some household items. 

2. Identify birds

Listening to birdsong has a great calming effect on our minds. It's also really fun trying to identify birds using their song, especially if you've got them visiting your birdfeeder. From the cheerful chirps of sparrows to the soft cooing of  wood pigeons - check out this bird song identifier and see what you can hear.

3. Get up close with animals

To get close to animals even when you're stuck at home, the Wildlife Trust has a load of animal webcams. These perfectly positioned cameras will give you a glimpse of seals, barn owls, peregrine falcons, badgers and more! And even if the animals are hiding away, the sights and sounds of their habitats can be a relaxing watch.

4. Way to grow

Gardening has a great calming effect on our minds. But you don't need outdoor space to reap the benefits of growing plants. Take a look at the indoor gardening ideas we shared in guiding magazine, and learn how to recycle scraps into brand new plants.

5. Hug a tree

Or 350, like David Knott did for charity!

Tree hugging is a great way to deeply connect with nature. Have a mindful moment and get really close, wrap your arms around it and feel the texture of the tree. What can you smell and hear?

6. Get artsy

Can you create a picture without using pens and paper? Hunt outside for fallen leaves, petals, sticks and stones and arrange them to create designs and pictures. Remember not to pick any plants, as they can be important to animals and other wildlife. Get creative with different shapes, textures and colours to build your design - or work in circles and make a nature mandala.

7. Check out these nature-related interest badges

Explore nature and wellbeing through our interest badges. Rainbows and Brownies can enjoy Nature and Grow your own badges. Guides should check out Natural remedies and the Self-care badge for Rangers has some great challenges for exploring these topics.

More wellbeing challenges

Have a look at our Adventures at home wellbeing challenges. Girls told us about feeling more lonely, worried and fed up during lockdown - these challenges help them understand what they can do to look after their wellbeing. If you've not tried them, why not get started during this Mental Health Awareness Week