During lockdown, many of us spent more time in nature than we would usually have done. In our back gardens, local parks and woods we were able to discover things we hadn’t noticed before. As I looked for places to walk from my house for my daily exercise, I consulted the Ordnance Survey map. I found a whole network of footpaths and bridleways around Brampton and Linacre, so I set about exploring and making the most of the weather. On my walks I found out that pied flycatchers make their home in Linacre Woods, I smelled the bluebells, felt the warm sun on my face, heard the breeze blowing through the treetops and even helped myself to raspberries later on in the summer. All of my senses were alive with nature!
I am a person who is naturally drawn to nature; I always have been. I feel a strong connection with it and find comfort in it whenever I am feeling down. For the last fifteen years, I have worked for nature conservation charities, such as the RSPB, the National Trust and the Woodland Trust and my focus has been on getting people out into nature, by hosting special events and working on marketing and promotion to attract visitors to nature reserves. I have now turned my focus to helping people to get to know nature and how beneficial it is for their health and wellbeing, by running guided walks that feature nature, discovery along with elements of forest bathing and mindfulness.
There is growing concern that many people have lost their connection to nature – even children are becoming increasingly disconnected and it is not good for people, and even worse for the planet. David Attenborough was once asked “When did you find your love for nature?” and he answered simply, “When did you lose yours?” We all have an innate connection to other living things in the world around us - think of a child’s fascination with a ladybird, or how the sound of birdsong or a flowing river is soothing, or how plants make a room feel better - but we get so wrapped up in the world we have created for ourselves that our connection to the very ecosystem that keeps us alive slips away.
As we lose our connection with the natural world around us, our own health and wellbeing can suffer. Levels of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues seem to be forever on the rise and there are a multitude of reasons for this. However, I firmly believe that there is something we can all do to help improve our own wellbeing, and ultimately the wellbeing of our planet, and the first step is to take notice of nature. There is mounting evidence being gathered by several universities in the UK that experiencing nature in certain ways helps us to deepen our understanding and appreciation of it. By actively putting our attention into experiencing nature in these ways, we can connect on different levels, and ultimately, discover more about both nature and ourselves.
I will be running two walks this November on Sunday 15th and Sunday 29th. These first two walks will be free and I will be gathering feedback from those who take part. To find out more about how I can help you to rediscover your connection, get to know nature and start your journey to natural happiness, visit:
Words: Holly Booker
Image: Holly Booker & Adobe Stock