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

Cheshire Life - - Gardening -

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’

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