Cure your Nature Deficit Disorder
Modern routines don’t leave enough room for wildlife, but now is the perfect time to take action, says Katie Greenwood from Cheshire Wildlife Trust Cheshire Life: May 2019 Cheshire Life: May 2019
My days are spent under artificial light; from my car to my office, to the gym then back home. Spending time outside just isn’t a part of my routine anymore. It’s causing health problems too, I’m becoming more mindless and experiencing higher stress levels. I’m suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder.
Coined by Richard Louv, the author of the Last Child in the Woods, Nature Deficit Disorder is the idea that we’re adapted to the outdoors. Spending our time in artificial environments and not moving around as much as we should can cause behavioural problems, particularly in children. Think about your dog or
cat if you’re not able to let them out – we’re no different.
To me this makes sense, after I spend a day outside, I feel fantastic. It’s a feeling that’s calm but energising and I am excited by all I’ve seen. We all intrinsically know nature is good for our wellbeing and happiness. Being outside breathing the fresh air is fantastic for clearing your head. Bird watching and searching for insects can be very mindful. Lunchtime strolls are great for squeezing physical activity into your day.
Even though we all know this, introducing ‘the outdoors’ into your routine everyday can be a challenge. I know I find it hard, and I’m lucky enough to
actually spend a few days a week working outside with volunteers. Finding the time for something new and building things into your routine isn’t easy, especially when modern life gets in the way. With phones, social media and technology as distractions, filling our time has never been easier. With so many people mindlessly doing activities, now has never been a better time to take on the challenge to reconnect with yourself and nature for 30 days of wild actions. Go on, I dare you.
Throughout June Cheshire Wildlife Trust is asking you to do this with our 30 Days Wild campaign. The challenge is to do something wild every day. Whether that’s walking barefoot in the grass, cloud watching or even adding freshly picked berries to your evening gin and tonic, there really is something for everyone. With a welcome pack and weekly emails when you sign up, you won’t be short of inspiration. You can even get your business or school involved.
In 2016, the University of Derby measured the effect that taking part in 30 Days Wild really had on people. The study showed being connected to nature leads to significant improvements in health, and happiness. People were also more likely to do more for nature, such as feeding the birds and planting flowers for bees – not just throughout the challenge, but for months afterwards as well.
This is another piece to a growing body of evidence that shows definitively that we need nature to be happy and healthy.
At Cheshire Wildlife Trust we protect wildlife. To do this
‘Being connected to nature leads to significant improvements in health, and happiness’
we need as many people as possible to know how fabulous nature is, and to truly appreciate what it can do for us. We offer opportunities for children to take part in Wildplay, we run Nature Tots sessions, we have volunteers helping across the county and we run events for people to explore their local wild spaces.
We all benefit from our natural environment but those who benefit most are those who are disadvantaged, whether from disability, background, poor mental or physical health. The natural environment is an accessible resource that can really help these people. It’s not a solution to all problems, but it can alleviate the stresses and help in other ways. Just being in the outdoors is great, but exercising in it is even better.
Go Wild Get Fit is our three-year project around improving natural wellbeing for disadvantaged communities. Funded by Sport England, we are able to offer opportunities to those who are disadvantaged to be active in the outdoors through conservation volunteering. This not only improves their physical and mental wellbeing but improves their community’s wild spaces too. Volunteers build skills and confidence in ways they couldn’t imagine and it helps them make a first step on a new path. Focussing on Northwich, Winsford, Ellesmere Port and Chester, volunteers are matched with a mentor to help them along their journey. We’re already seeing fantastic transformations just a few months into the project. Students from Reaseheath who struggled with a range of disabilities joined us in January for a six-week programme to prepare them for their work placements.
So, why not release your inner wild child this June? Whether that’s star-gazing with a hot chocolate under a blanket of stars, listening for the dawn chorus as the sun welcomes a new day, counting the spots of a ladybird or dancing in the rain – make nature your playground this June. • To take part in 30 days wild and for your free pack, visit wildlifetrusts.org/30dayswild. • For more information on the Go Wild Get Fit programme go to cheshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/ Gowildgetfit.
‘We need as many people as possible to know how fabulous nature is’