There has been a growing body of evidence indicating the positive impacts of nature for people. A recent survey conducted by the University of Derby’s Nature Connectedness Research group, and in partnership with the National Trust, has shown how those people with an active ‘engagement’ with #nature are more likely to be #happier and feel their lives are worthwhile. A strong bond with nature was proven to be important for both children and adults’ #wellbeing.
Adults and children were both surveyed and asked about their sense of connection with nature and ranked on their levels of happiness. The top 25% of adults who felt most nature connected also felt that the things they do in their lives were more worthwhile, 19% higher than the rest of the population. These adults also reported higher levels of happiness, 15% more than the rest of the population, leading to a strong association between nature connectedness and lower levels of depression and anxiety. For children the results showed that they were more likely to report feeling happy when they had a higher level of nature connectedness, if they engaged in activities linked to nature such as writing songs or poems, and if they were able to relax in nature, simply by sitting in the garden. Children were less likely to report feeling happy when they spent too long indoors, when they showed annoyance linked to nature, e.g. complaining of wasps, or when they felt less connected to nature than they had the year before.
The research also showed that there is growing concern about the decline of nature, with 86% of adults agreeing that there needs to be strong laws put in place to protect nature. The survey sadly showed that 83% of children and 79% of adults never or rarely smelt wildflowers and 77% of children and 62% of adults never or rarely listened to birdsong. As a result of the Universities survey The National Trust have launched a guide to everyday nature connection and a public awareness campaign. Within the guide are recommended activities to help improve people’s relationship with the natural world and take action to help wildlife decline. Small, everyday interventions in peoples lives, such as noticing the sunrise, watching the clouds, growing a plant or picking up some litter, can lead to real, meaningful change that can make a huge difference in our lives as well as protecting nature for future generations to enjoy. In these times of international government recommended self-isolation, perhaps one small thing we can do to help improve our mental health is to step out into our gardens or with appropriate social distancing local parks, woods and open spaces, or if not possible then open the window and take a moment to stop and notice the nature that surrounds us.