Five ways to wellbeing during lockdown

For Mental Health Awareness Week, Lorna Fox, GWT’s Head of Community Programmes, takes a closer look at our connection to nature during lockdown and reveals how we can continue to enhance our wellbeing by practising five simple actions.

Life before lockdown – all sunshine and carefree?

As I sit inside looking out on a sunny May day I turn my mind back to days gone by where COVID-19, social distancing and lockdown weren’t part of my vocabulary and I had the freedom to choose where, when and how I would visit my friends, family and my favourite wild places. It all seems so easy, so free, a place where the sun forever shines and troubles are far away.

Yet I know this is not the true picture. When I peel back the layers and push myself to remember what life was like only a few months ago, I remember the noise, the cars, the traffic, the rush hour, the pace, the rushing, the busyness, the appointments, the meetings, the motorway; the list goes on. I wonder how I did all I did in the time I had. But somehow I managed it.

Are we closer to nature during lockdown?

In all this, the one event that always made me stop, stand still, look in awe and listen in wonder, was my time in nature. Whether I was up a hill, by a river or in a wood on one of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves, I would pause and let all the noise, internally and externally, go. I would find solace and companionship in the quiet and a peace inside that only nature could give.

I’m unable to visit my favourite nature reserves at present but, whilst there is nothing like the view from the top of Crickley Hill to help you to breath and reboot on life, or the quietness of Lower Woods to ground you and remind you to listen, somehow this time, stuck inside, has brought me back to the quiet I find in nature far more than when lockdown did not exist.

Nature is there for everyone if you take a closer look…

I have opened my windows and I hear no noise, just quietness….and the birds. I have looked out and seen spring unfolding with bright blue skies and sunshine lighting up the lime green of new shoots. I have noticed more nature, right here outside my window, on my doorstep, than ever before. And I have realised that a stillness, quiet and peace exists everywhere, you only need to look.

Practising kindness to myself as well as those around me in these days, has been essential and my connection to nature has significantly helped. Opening my eyes to the nature that exists everywhere has helped me to slow down, to embrace a gentle pace over this time and to pay more attention. With that has grown a gratefulness for what I have around me and a kindness for all that exists. It may not be Dimmels Dale or Whelford Pools, but the crack in the paving stone just outside my front door has a woodlice colony and for that I’m very thankful.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, from Monday 18 until Sunday 24 May. We know that mental health awareness stretches far wider than one week and that during this time, more so than ever, mental health awareness is vital.

We also know that the natural environment and being connected to nature can benefit our mental health greatly with a wealth of evidence and our own work at GWT showing improved mental health through spending time or being active in the natural environment.

Five Ways to Wellbeing

Our Five Ways to Wellbeing Leaflet is one way, during this time, that GWT is hoping to support communities in Gloucestershire to improve mental health through the natural environment, as well as our Wellbeing Wednesday posts on our social media channels. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Gloswildlife.

For now, right here and in this moment, there is one action we can all take this week for ourselves and for our wellbeing: stand still, look out and look up, take a deep breath and notice the world around you; look on with kindness and you never know what you might find.