Category Appreciating nature during lockdown

Appreciating nature during lockdown

All rights reserved. My plan was to spend the 50th Earth Day up in Alaska. Maybe it was all those filmstrips and videos they showed in grade school every April—of howler monkeys or racing orca pods or underwater reef activity.

When I was taught about Earth Day, the Earth that we took time to celebrate existed far from the pixel of the planet I could see outside the classroom window. The Alaska trip was booked months ago, when my earthly trajectory was much wider: traveling for work, weekend hikes on the Oregon coast, annoying fellow patrons at karaoke bars.

Coronavirus lockdown: Can nature help improve our mood?

Over the past month, however, my planet has shrunk to the size of my house and the yard that surrounds it, with occasional spacewalks to the closest food store. The other day, I opened the window, pressed my head against the screen, and gobbled at King while he strutted by, and when he gobbled back, I ran to the front yard to continue our exchange.

My cell phone was in my hand as usual when I heard the call of the wild turkey, so I immediately posted the video of our exchange online for all my housebound friends to see. Both descending and ascending whistles… Anybody have a clue? At any hour on any day of my confinement, I can fire up my laptop to observe faraway creatures, trading the office window that separates me from Roberta Redfur for a glass screen that connects me to a wild, live-streaming menagerie.

Still downy, the young bird sports a long beak, which is slightly parted and tilting toward the noonday sun. At the same moment, over at the Lubee Bat Conservancyseveral species of fruit bat are quite literally hanging around with each other. One just grabbed a wheel of melon from the food tin and walked upside down—feet gripping along the wire-gridded ceiling—to eat its snack in peace.

As the bat munches in the evening light, a night-vision camera hidden near a watering hole in Tembe Elephant Park captures the 3 a. And as these screens on my desk take me to New Zealand, Florida, and South Africa, my stealthy cat, Spoonerruns beneath my feet to swat a housefly.

More often than ever before, I check in with my families—both the Zoom-able human kin and my cervine family of Doofers—as a way of passing the workday. I also check in with the distant creatures made familiar to me by nature websites, social media, and wacky news reports. The north-migrating monarch butterflies breached the 38th parallel today, an online tracker tells me.

Last spring, I was visiting Seattle Zoo, staring at a brown bear in her plexiglass enclosure. Nearly all the humans in my life are as contained today as an axolotl in a Parisian zoo. But now we use the tools that bring faraway creatures closer to us to keep tabs on one another. Last week, for example, I poured a cocktail and video chatted with a pal, just watching her make soup for dinner—another kind of habitat cam, I suppose.

This might be the only time when my access to the creatures most like me directly mirrors my access to the creatures I was taught to separate from myself. But now, some of these animals will undoubtedly be human.At a time when so many of us are facing a heightened sense of threat as well as deep worries about our future, can nature lift our spirits? With far more people unable to work, or working from home, many have been inspired to explore nature in their neighbourhood as they refocus on their immediate surroundings.

As one Instagram user summed it up: "[It] takes a lockdown to find new paths from home. Escaped the 'office' to follow the River Trent winding through the floodplain at the bottom of our road, past gnarly old tree stumps and a statuesque heron. As factory and car emissions have declined, there are fewer tiny particles in the air, so it's easier to see beyond built-up areas and to the stars in the night sky.

Less city noise also highlights the sounds of birds. There is also greater interest in gardening.

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Google Trends shows a doubling of worldwide online searches for compost and seeds compared with a year ago. While the impact of experiencing nature on our physical health is less well documented, a wealth of studies have demonstrated the positive effects of the natural world on our mental health.

Even a brief nature fix - 10 minutes of wind brushing across our cheek, or the sun on our skin - can lower stress, explains Dr Mathew White, from the University of Exeter. If we immerse ourselves in beautiful landscapes, like a rich coastline or a wild forest teeming with an array of species, we feel more intense emotions, he adds. Connecting with nature can help us feel happier and more energised, with an increased sense of meaning and purpose, as well as making tasks seem more manageable.

Dr Gretchen C Daily from Stanford University, in the US, uses this evidence to help the World Bank and city governments around the world develop policies to integrate the natural environment into our urban landscapes.

Nature-based activitiessuch as gardening and farming, have been used as part of mental health treatments around the world for centuries.

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GPs in London, Liverpool and Dorset have been prescribing nature experiences for patients with depression and anxiety. These include a healthy walk or planting mint to nurture and grow. Evidence indicates you can also benefit from "bathing" yourself in nature remotely. One experiment installed large plasma displays of real-time natural scenes outside an office, resulting in people's connection to their wider social community and the natural world increasing.

So your feelings can be enhanced by listening to recordings of natural soundssuch as crashing waves or squawks of forest birdsafter you've experienced them in person or watched a powerful film or programme featuring that landscape. Dr Jorgensen believes seeing the recurrent rhythms and rebirth of nature, in which plants and animals survive despite the harshness of winter, can also offer us hope and help us cope with the tragedies in our lives. Part of nature's power lies in its ability to wash away whatever is provoking a lot of our stress, explains Dr Daily.

Slow movements such as the ripples of water or clouds moving across the sky place effortless demands on our working memory but enough to distract us from spiralling rumination, self-blame and hopelessness. Researchers call this capacity to hold our attention the "soft fascination" of nature.

Tending to a plant helps us to appreciate the power we have to nurture, and gives us a sense of achievement when the plant flourishes, which Dr Jorgensen says is particularly important for those struggling with their mental health.Even city-dwellers can enjoy the natural world from their windows.

You just need to know what you're looking — and listening — out for. Our working days have shifted, our routines moulded too. Now, at 6. Things pale a little as the day wears on: wood pigeons stupidly chasing mates around tree branches; squawking parakeets. Everything sent a-flutter.

By dusk, though, order is restored: the blackbirds sing the sunset in, the quiet drill of a woodpecker reverberates through it all. I watch it play out through my window. Watching what happens there, all day, has kept me sane while social distancing. Like me — and everyone else listening carefully by their window these days — Jones starts with the birds.

So I would suggest getting in a habit of seeing what kinds of birds you can spot outside your window. The dawn chorus might help you get back to sleep.

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After the listening, comes the looking. Jones encourages trying to visually work through the rainbow, instead, to hone awareness: pink blossom, blue forget-me-nots, green leaves, the orange of a sunset. If you are able to take daily walks, the same practice can apply, and — within reason — you should be able to get a little more up and close with the wildflowers that are closer to the ground. If you can see a tree outside your window, you are looking at a fractal shape.

Fractals — found in everything from fern fronds to broccoli — have been found to affect the brain. Because the eye is fractal too, it locks into place with fractal-shaped plants and flowers. While time is a slippery and shape-shifting thing during self-isolation, we are nevertheless spending more hours in one place than we ever have before. Setting even a few minutes aside to sink into the view from our windows - or taking a few slower moments on our increasingly familiar daily walks - can lead to all sorts of tiny, precious discoveries that can help ground us at a time when we need it most.

And so I think people are, as they have always done, turning to the living world for comfort and sustenance and grounding. Six Penguin Random House books are in the running to win the prestigious prize, which will be announced in March. A month-by-month guide to the most exciting and anticipated fiction, non-fiction and children's books out in As Joe Biden is inaugurated, these books are for anyone interested in the issues he faces, from criminal justice reform to the climate crisis to the legacy of Donald Trump.

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appreciating nature during lockdown

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Features Find your next read Sign up for our newsletter Events Podcasts Apps. Children's Children's 0 - 18 months 18 months - 3 years 3 - 5 years 5 - 7 years 7 - 9 years 9 - 12 years View all children's.In the middle of the lockdown due coronavirus outbreak, there are some are visuals that even the past few generations have not seen.

The mother earth can heal and she healed quickly. There are many pictures and videos of nature, birds, and wildlife claiming its share in the plant.

Surrounded by cedar forests on the edge of the Himalayas, Dharamshala is a beautiful hill station by all means. But the visuals have improved so dramatically due to the reduced pollution that it looks like a different place altogether.

There is still beauty to be found in nature during this tough winter lockdown

If scientists are to be believed the water quality of Holy rive Ganga has seen a remarkable improvement and is now even fit for drinking. With industries shut and people staying home, the quality of Ganga river water has witnessed a significant improvement. Rhino came out of Chitwan Reserve forest, to impliment total lockdown in Nepal pic. In a rare sight Rhino came out of Chitwan Reserve forest, appeared as if it wanted to implement total lockdown in Nepal. True harmony visible now. Monkey seem to be having a great time in a swimming pool of residential society in Mumbai.

Why should only residents have all the fun? Little positives of Corona lockdown. Peacock dancing on an empty Mumbai street, Parsi colony, Hughes Road.

How to enjoy nature during lockdown - even if it's only out of your window

Definitely a little respite and a moment to smile between the gloom of Corona lockdown. Nature Covid19Lockdown coronaupdatesindia pic. Connaught Place today. Some other species begin to reclaim the earth. Photographer unknown. Janta curfew on Sunday, March 22, was kind of a rehearsal before the actual lockdown began on 25th March in India. A single day of self-imposed lockdown was enough to see the birds having their care-free time on the streets. Since humans are not using schools now.

So these peacocks made it their meeting hall. Same pack which gave message of social distancing.

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From Lodhsar, Nagaur. Video is sent by Banne Singh from village. The schools are naturally closed due to the lockdown, the birds have all their personal space now. The snow-clad peaks were a sight to behold as pollution levels dipped remarkably across the two states.

For the first time here in Rushikulya history turtles came in the day time for laying their eggs thanks to Lockdown21 normally they come during the night time. It was the first time in the history of Rushikulya that the turtles came during the day time for laying their eggs all due to humans remaining confined to their homes.The past few weeks have been tough for many - but a survey has found that during lockdown, more and more people have been turning to nature to boost their mental health and wellbeing.

If you ever read Enid Blyton when you were young, you might remember the frequency with which her adventurous young characters would be sent away to the seaside or the country whenever they were struck down with the flu or the sniffles.

This kind of post-illness recovery trip became particularly popular during the Victorian era, especially amongst the well-to-do, and reflects a trend going back centuries among philosophers and doctors alike promoting the restorative benefits of nature. In recent years, scientists and psychologists have become interested, too. Individuals should prioritise getting themselves and their children out in nature, while still maintaining the appropriate level of social distancing, as they would other essential things.

Some, of course, are lucky enough to live near large parks or open countryside, and could take their daily exercise there - but even those without that easy access have been bird-spotting, potting plants, and discovering what green space there is in their local area. Louise Baker and her family moved into their new-build home in Drakelow in South Derbyshire, near Burton-on-Trent, at the end of last year.

In the past, she has turned to nature to help her deal with mental health issues including anxiety; she now blogs about her experience and has worked with the Wildlife Trust too. During lockdown, she and her family have used gardening as a way to stay happy and healthy - as well as making home schooling a little more fun.

Friends of Mine: “Appreciating Nature”

And we know people who live in flats who've been doing the same on their balconies, or window sills. You don't need acres of land to get the benefit. She said some of her anxiety has to do with controlling her immediate environment, but she finds being out in the natural world soothing. The mental health charity Mind also advises interacting with nature as a way to boost mental health, citing benefits including:.

Senior psychology lecturer at the University of Birmingham, Ali Mazaheri, is among those researching why this might be. He told me there are various theories as to why this might be.

Being in a more urban setting involves dealing with traffic, other people, and higher levels of noise, all of which the brain has to compute and analyse to determine which require an immediate response, and which might pose a danger, and so on.

This piece of research is considered particularly significant, Mr Mazaheri said, as it controlled for other variables such as parental income and poverty. And Mr Mazaheri said he fears the health service will start to see an increase in rates of depression and anxiety once the pandemic is over, particularly amongst those who have either chosen not to take advantage of nature nearby - or have not been able to. The CPRE - which conducted the latest survey - is now hoping that with more people realising the importance of having easily accessible green space, more will be done to protect it as a valuable asset to communities.

Sources cited in this article:.Summer holidays abroad look doomed, but there is comfort and reward to be found just by being curious about your surroundings. Could we bring to these experiences the same kind of curiosity we might feel when visiting a different city or landscape? Is it possible to find dynamism and novelty in our parks, streets and woodlands? Bird songs are richest at dawn and dusk. The wild garlic smells stronger when the soil is warm. The nettles glow Kermit-green when the sun is low in the sky.

The scarlet pimpernel shows itself when light and humidity are just so. Our lives are made from the things we pay attention to. Slowing down and observing — these are radical things to do in our accelerated age. The more we pay attention, the more we see.

appreciating nature during lockdown

The senses can help us notice more. I have heard a cuckoo twice this last week for the first time since childhood, in two different spots. It must be a combination of fewer aircraft and cars, and a craving and alertness for as much life as possible during that precious time outside.

A rainy day will put a lot of people off a walk — though it often looks worse from the inside and woods look more beautiful when wet — but the smell of petrichor, the scent of the earth after it has rained, is worth seeking. It has been found to activate brain waves associated with calmness and relaxation.

Sometimes I choose one element to focus on. It might be different shades of green, leaf shapes, the colours of stalks, lichen, tiny things, an abundance of things, things becoming other things. In Hampshire, where I am, it might be swifts, mayflies, damselflies, speckled wood butterflies, slow worms, beetles, caterpillars.

appreciating nature during lockdown

People are heterogeneous. You might love fungi; I might love spiders. Find what you like. We have lost our connection with the rest of the living world that we are part of. But now, many of us are spending more time in the natural world than ever before, and our environments may be as new and undiscovered as a holiday destination on the other side of the world.

Noticing nature is linked to pro-environmental behaviour. If we feel a kinship, we are more likely to seek a reciprocal relationship with other beings. The evidence that contact with nature — even a view out of a window — can enhance healing continues to grow.

Nature might even be a balm for those dealing with loss and loneliness. At an ecotherapy group I attended while researching my book, a man shared how methodically noticing the plants on a daily walk helped him grieve. Many of us are frightened, bored, or missing loved ones, and watching spring unfurl can be a healthy kind of escapism. When the news feels overwhelming, the rhythms and patterns outside can be a steadying arm: the swifts returning, the tightly orchestrated symphony of wildflowers, the trees filling out.

You can find the wild near your home. There is magic in the seemingly mundane. If you want more, you can find more. Environment Climate change Wildlife Energy Pollution. The world turned upside down Wildlife. This article is more than 8 months old. Lucy Jones.Sign up to the Life newsletter for daily tips, advice, how-tos and escapism. Everywhere we turn, nature is thriving. The show must go on.

As we spend more time indoorsmany of us are finding a newfound — or somewhat revived — appreciation for the natural world.

Bees, butterflies and birds out of hiding, continuing as normal. We are, quite literally, stopping to smell the roses.

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During lockdown, Marcio Delgado, 40, has explored his north London garden more, rather than just staying indoors. Wildlife charity the RSPB has witnessed an increase in social media engagement since lockdown.

Nature has always been there, ticking over in the background, but many of us have been too busy to take in its beauty. Holly Pither, in her mids and based in Oxfordshire, has been focusing on nature on her daily run, as well as at home. And Beth Stone, 28, from south London, has enjoyed watching the comings and goings of feathered friends while she works.

Cara de Lange, 46, from south west London, is enjoying the birdsong during lockdown. The time of year surely also plays a part in the collective renewed interest in the natural world. If it were winter, would we be enjoying nature as much? Probably not. Nature may also be providing an antidote to our feelings of anxiety and stress right now, offering a chance to be mindful and stay in the present moment.

The outside world is so good for us, in fact, that indoctors in Shetland prescribed birdwatchingrambling and beach walks to help treat mental illness, diabetes, heart disease, and stress. Multiple studies have also found nature-based activities like gardening and walking in parks to be beneficial to mental health.

A review in found they can contribute to reduced anxiety, stress and depression. Interestingly, the beneficial effects of being in nature impacted people positively for up to seven hours afterwards. Why does nature have this positive effect on us? Bulbs are coming up, leaves are growing on trees, life is sprouting. Nature has so much to offer, but will people remember how much it gave to us, once all of this is over?

Professor Hart hopes so.