Ways of connecting with wildlife for wellbeing by Keeping it Wild Trainee Martina

One of my favourite things about the natural environment is how impactful it can be to our wellbeing. It's no secret that nature can benefit the way we feel. I myself know for sure that after a long day's work indoors, or after too many hours of screen time, my mind and body crave the fresh air.

It could literally be a matter of going for a 20-minute walk and returning home feeling completely different and better; often refreshed and more relaxed. Such a simple interaction with the outdoors can make such a dramatic difference. 

I have learnt many new things as a trainee on Keeping it Wild, one of them being ‘The 5 Ways to Wellbeing’. The 5 Ways to Wellbeing were developed by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) on behalf of the Foresight Commission in the UK, and is a guideline of key aims in the support of wellbeing when practiced in a balanced and regular way.  

What are the ways? 

  • Connect - talking and engaging with people and the world around you 

  • Be Active- getting up and moving around physically 

  • Keep Learning - engaging with your curiosity and embracing and discovering new experiences 

  • Take Notice - taking a moment to appreciate the small things/take in the beauty of nature 

  • Give- doing something good for someone or wildlife 

5 ways of wellbeing

Putting it into action 

Here are some of my favourite small ways that we can be in touch with nature and wildlife-based around the 5 Ways to Wellbeing: 

  1. Grow something for wildlife! 

The wildlife in your greenspace will differ depending on what you decide to plant. Why not have some fun experimenting and exploring which plants will attract what? For example, you might find that flowers like Buddleia or Honeysuckle will attract bees, butterflies and moths. Or fruit and vegetables like berries and apples will attract certain insects and birds. It’s all about nourishing your own local eco-system. If you do not have a garden, or you have limited space, make a vertical garden! These are trendy and make great use of space, and you can make it from a range of materials like recycled wooden pallets or pockets of fabric. After attaching it to your wall simply fill some pots or your fabric pocket with compost and plant away! Once you start seeing the wildlife coming to appreciate your generous experiment, you will feel very rewarded. 

Gardening for pollinators
Grow veg for wildlife
  1. Seasonal Tree Project

You can do this during any season of the year. Personally, my favourite time is approaching Autumn through to the start of Winter because Autumn is my favourite season and I find that the colours during this time are great for this visual project. 

This can be done from your window, but if you want to kill two birds with one stone and be active too; take a stroll down to a local part and find yourself a tree subject. It’s your personal project so you can be as regular with it as you like but for some really great results, I would suggest visiting this tree maybe once or twice per week. Watch the way it transforms throughout the season. Each time you visit, take a picture. Compile your photographs at home and when you have completed your chosen season get creative and choose a way to showcase your project! Whether this is online or through a series of prints, you will have a beautiful end product. Get connected and show off your creation to friends and family! 

Trees leaves turning yellow in sydenham hill wood

Daniel Greenwood

  1. Insect Hotel

“...we would not survive without them. Not only do they pollinate our flowers and crops, but they are also the cornerstone of ecosystems, the creatures that generate the cycles and food-webs of the living earth.” Peter Marren, Bugs Britannica. 

Insects are so important and provide us with flourishing ecosystems. Get crafty and give something back to them and help them flourish further with an insect hotel. Insect hotels are a great craft project because they can be made from almost anything you have lying around outside. Simply find a place of sunlight or light shade and create a structure from anything to old plant stems, twigs and branches, pine cones, tree bark, or logs. Add a solid roof to keep it dry inside. This is a great way to get in touch with the wildlife on your doorstep. Grab a magnifying glass and carefully inspect who is staying in your insect hotel! 
 
These are just a few of the fun things anyone can do to be in touch with nature and improve wellbeing. You owe it to yourself to take some time aside to embrace the nature and wildlife around you and take a moment to notice and appreciate the small things. You will not regret it! 

Make an insect hotel
Hedgelaying workshop

Keeping it Wild Trainees Credit Penny Dixie

About Keeping it Wild

Keeping it Wild is an ambitious project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, that will empower and inspire 600 young people aged 11-25, from backgrounds currently under-represented in natural heritage, to gain vital skills while discovering, conserving and sharing their experiences of the capital’s wild spaces. 

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