We are only just beginning to appreciate how deeply the relationship between regular contact with the outdoors and our own wellbeing goes.
Fresh air and stepping away from the complexities of modern life go a long way towards making us feel healthier and happier, giving us a much-needed mood-boost that we carry into the rest of our day.
The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s green wellbeing project, Myplace, has been using contact with nature to support people since 2016 and has seen first-hand just how essential and beneficial even simple activities, like regular walks or feeding the birds, can be.
This year for Mental Health Awareness Week (10 May – 16 May) why not take a leaf out of the Myplace team’s book with their 10 wild ways to boost your wellbeing?
1. Make a wildflower seed bomb
Myplace Support Officer, Lisa, said: “The best part about making a wildflower seed bomb is getting to throw it at the end. I like to think I’m also throwing away something that worries me or any negative feeling that I might be having that day. By letting go you are helping to create something wonderful – a wildflower haven for wildlife and a weight lifted from your shoulders”
2. Start a nature journal
“I love to keep a journal of all the things I’ve seen during my walks or whilst delivering a Myplace session” said Myplace Assistant Project Officer, Danielle. “It’s so interesting to look back over the changing seasons and to really take the time to appreciate and feel grateful for the natural world.”
Next time you’re out in nature, why not challenge yourself to try and find something to write about, paint, draw or take a photo of?
3. Take action for our planet
Youth Advocacy Officer, Eleanor, said: “Be pro-active and make a positive impact for yourself, your community and nature. You could start with a litter pick around your local park, organise a nature walk with you and your friends or create an eco-friendly bird feeder. Doing good deeds will make you feel fantastic too!”
4. Learn about your local wildflowers
“Spring is a fantastic time to start learning about wildflowers” said Myplace Project Officer, Adam. “As they emerge and grow, take a really close look and see how many new species you can learn about. The iNaturalist app is a great way to start learning more about the wildlife all around you and helps you to keep a record of everything you’ve found too.”
5. Get out on your bike
Myplace Project Officer, Rebecca, said: “Go for a bike ride to your local park, along a greenway or cycleway and enjoy the sights and sounds of spring with the gentle breeze in your face.
6. Take notice of the birds
Myplace Project Officer, Jenni, said: “Take time out to immerse yourself in all things birds! Now is a brilliant time to take an interest in birds as they are super active with nesting, finding a partner and raising young. Maybe sit still in your garden or favourite local green space and listen to the birds chirruping away. You could even try to identify which direction each call is coming from and appreciate being immersed in all of the different songs? If you would like an extra challenge, why not try and learn to identify different species of birds through their calls?”
7. Explore a local green space
Myplace Project Officer, Phil, said: “Get out to your local nature reserve or wild space. I particularly love taking a walk around a reservoir, feeling the breeze from across the water and taking in the smell of wild garlic from the surrounding woodland. You never know what’s right on your doorstep, you can find your local nature reserve by heading to our website.”
8. Try your hand at foraging
Myplace Project Officer, Jo, said: “Take a moment to learn and appreciate the beauty and usefulness of some plant species that are more commonly seen as weeds. Now is a great time for dandelions, wild garlic, garlic mustard, nettles and sorrel. There are loads of great recipes and ideas online (dandelion and lemon biscuits are a particular favourite of mine!).
Remember to always thoroughly wash anything you forage before consumption, don’t dig up the whole plant (some are protected by law), don’t strip a plant bare and only ever take as much as you’ll need, leaving enough for nature (a good rule to follow is take one for you, leave three for nature), Many plants are important food sources for early pollinators or are important food plants for insect young later in the year. Don’t take from sources that may be likely to be contaminated (i.e. busy road verges or popular dog walking routes), and only ever pick and consume what you can 100% identify – if you’re not sure don’t risk it!
9. Get growing
Myplace Project Officer, Andy, said: “It can be so rewarding to grow your own vegetables, herbs and flowers for pollinators in whatever space you might have.
Seedlings and cuttings also make great gifts! To look after the planet, make sure to use peat-free compost whenever possible.”
10. Take part in the 30 Days Wild campaign
Communications Officer, Ellie, said: “Can you do something wild every day for 30 days? Sign up to our 30 Days Wild Challenge in June for lots of ideas and inspiration to get you started and help you have the wildest month yet!”
Myplace offers a range of free green wellbeing sessions for both adults and young people throughout Lancashire and Greater Manchester, both online and in-person.