How nature helps me through lockdown

Many studies of past and present tell us that there is a clear correlation between nature, our mental and physical wellbeing. There is just something about connecting to the natural world around us that releases the right number of endorphins, so we can forget about the many stresses within our lives.

Evolutionary speaking, our ancestors were surrounded in nature throughout their daily lives. Early Homo sapiens had to learn the ways of the natural world in order to survive and thrive in it. It is highly probable that they each valued the many benefits it offered in return by simply paying attention.

In today’s modern day, finding the time to pay attention to nature or even submerge into it is rather difficult. Many of us have busy lives, we’re surrounded by busy buildings, and sometimes there just isn’t enough wild spaces and wildernesses left for us to explore.

The Coronavirus pandemic has been problematic in numerous ways, but one thing it has enabled us all to do is connect to nature and value it much more than we may have done in the past. We all had to get creative in lockdown – searching for escapism much closer to home on doorsteps or in local nature reserves.

Local nature gems five minutes away from my door step

For me personally, I am not quite sure how I would’ve coped experiencing three National lockdowns without having local green spaces to visit. With many occupations reducing hours and terminating contracts; education mostly being virtual; and isolation becoming more and more frequent – it perhaps has never been a more important time to find hope, happiness and meaning around the beauties of nature.

Whether it’s birdwatching from the comfort of your home; acquiring some more plants in your household; preparing your garden for a forthcoming Spring, visiting local nature reserves (if you’re fortunate to have some nearby); or simply just going on regular mindful walks without your devices – there are truly many ways to thrive during these uncertain times.

Birding and other identification activities

During all three of these National Lockdowns thus far, I have tried my hardest to connect to nature and ensure that it is a fundamental part of my daily routine. During the first lockdown I trekked from Hartpury to Highnam Woods and back again to record an episode on The Outdoors Fix podcast. It was the first time I had ever hosted a walk, so touring through parts of The Cotswolds and taking in all of the British Countryside with company truly was invaluable. On most days, it is just myself, my binoculars, and my camera gear.

Throughout the second and third lockdown, I have been doing a lot of birding and cherishing their sightings. From Robins; Goldfinches; Greenfinches; Magpies; Blackbirds; Long tailed Tits; Blue tits; Great tits; Common Redstarts; Kestrels; Cormorants; and often clouds of various types of Gulls and Corvids – I believe I have been embracing the naturalist side to me rather well. Staying more locally allowed me to focus on areas I perhaps would’ve missed due to the busyness of life if we were not hit by this global pandemic. I set up many camera traps and captured footage of more than five Badgers that formed a family in a sett near us in Gloucester. Also, the occasional Red Fox which will be seen more frequently now as we slowly make our way to the Spring season.

Setting up camera traps in my favourite local nature spot

Participating in these little activities has truly meant the world to me and allowed me to cope during many instances where we can often feel hopeless. I have always been inspired by nature from the moment my family took me over to Northern Cyprus as a child. From running around with my uncle’s farm livestock; catching and observing geckos in coffee jars; getting down to ground level with a trail of ants; to running after little owls flying overhead me and landing onto a mature olive tree – these lockdowns have truly allowed me to feel nostalgic of past experiences. Also, to be grateful of whatever experiences we now have in travel, however small or large.

Connecting to nature is where most of us feel the happiest; it is where we’re free from the noise of the world; it is where we gather inspiration; it is many things indeed and I encourage all of you to try surrounding yourself in it if and when you can.

We all deserve to experience the wonders and ways of the natural world. It is so beneficial to us to understand it and protect it so we can continue receiving its rewards, and ensuring that other inhabitants and our future generations can cherish its wonders as well.

Tolga Aktas | Conservation Biologist, Writer & Environmental Photojournalist

Current Applied Ecology Student

>Animal Biology graduate<

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