The blogger’s brand-new book reveals how birdwatching helped him combat anxiety.
Why did you write this book?
I wrote Bird Therapy to provide an honest account of my mental health struggles and how nature has helped me, in the hope that it, too, may help others. It began as my journal – to record and reflect on the positive impact of birdwatching on my wellbeing – then a friend suggested I write a book.
How did you first discover the benefits of connecting with nature?
During the early days of my recovery journey, I watched a pair of buzzards displaying over a treeline. Their freedom and majesty were captivating, and I longed to experience that again. As my interest in birdwatching widened and deepened, I started to notice a tangible improvement in my wellbeing.
Why do you think nature has such a positive effect on us?
Fundamentally, because we are a part of it, so it’s akin to going back to our roots. It also provides us with an escape from the chaos of everyday life.
What is it about birdwatching in particular that you enjoy?
It’s a multi-faceted and fully-immersive sensory experience. It has so many interwoven strands of interest, from the everyday to the rare, from record keeping to weather patterns. It’s an ongoing learning experience and I’ve tried to describe it in Bird Therapy.
You talk about the mindfulness of sound – tell us more about that.
We are never truly just observing birds, it’s the whole package of connection that makes the experiences so special. The restorative properties of birdsong are evident and researched in the book, as is the way we connect sounds with places and experiences.
How can people make time to connect with nature during their busy lives?
Look around you, breathe, take notice of the simple and little pleasures found in the outside world. Start with your neighbourhood nature and garden birds.
How can we instil the importance of nature in future generations?
Bring back nature tables, integrate forest schools into the national curriculum, utilise technology, such as smartphones, to engage young people – like macro insect photography. We should highlight just how beautiful and underrated our everyday wildlife, and especially birds, are.