© 2022

Nature In The City



Many of us live a fast-paced urban life with long working days and crowded commutes and so, we are often in pressurised environments that can negatively affect our mental health. Looking after our mental health and wellbeing is crucial and there are things that each of us can do in our day-to-day lives to benefit. One such way is connecting with nature – even when your days are busy and other priorities feel more important.

A five minute walk getting some fresh air, natural light and passing a few trees can allow you to return to your work area refreshed; so you can run those figures with a clearer head, read over that email with a fresh set of eyes and make that phone call with a calmer demeanour.

Taking a break away from your area of work during your day can improve concentration and increase productivity. Instead of eating your lunch sitting at your desk or in a crowded staffroom, why not sit in a nearby park or find a bench in an area which interests you and watch the people go by? Although green spaces can seem difficult to find in large cities and urban areas, if you pause to take in your surroundings you may actually notice that nature is threaded throughout, even in the most built up areas. These spaces could be parks, canals or even just a grassy lawn with a few trees.

Use your senses while you’re outside. Close your eyes, what can you hear? Children playing, birds tweeting? Notice the varying sounds of different birds. Take a deep breath, what can you smell? Freshly mowed grass, lean in to smell spring flowers or the bark of trees after rainfall. Admire the colour changes of the leaves as the seasons change; which trees change first? Watch squirrels hunt for food in the autumn and try to spot little Robins in the winter. If you’re lucky enough to be close to a pond with ducks, swans or geese, feed them sweetcorn, peas, lettuce or other salad leaves. Squirrels will eat any type of nuts but their favourites are acorns, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds.

Despite our best intentions, inevitably, there will be days where you just do not want to go outside. Instead try and nurture some greenery inside for those cold and rainy days, surrounding yourself with it’s sights and smells. Put up framed photographs of your favourite places; family camping holidays, days at the beach or your favourite view from the top of a mountain. Prop the pictures up where you will see them regularly, to bring back the experiences and feelings you had there.

Indoor plants are low maintenance and can brighten up any office space or work area, as well as improving air quality. Hang bird feeders and clear bird boxes on nearby trees or onto windows with suction cups to attract wildlife for an up close viewing. Buy inexpensive fragrance diffusers with natural scents like sandalwood or pine, position them in communal areas with lots of passersby or near open windows to help the scent drift through the area.

On your commute to and from your workplace, keep an eye out for natural and green spaces that you can explore at another time. It is very easy for us to become accustomed to the same scheduled routine every day; maybe try getting off one stop before you are due to and then walk the rest of the way. You would be introducing more exercise into your daily routine as well as getting to know the area better. You may even come across hidden places within nature or places of interest you had not expected.

Creating some designated time for yourself away from the office, even just for a short period, could make a larger difference to your mental health and wellbeing than you may think.

Sarah Robin is a writer from the north of England who cares for the environment, wildlife and promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.


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