There is a wealth of research and evidence out there to demonstrate that forging a connection with nature promotes well being, both physical and mental. Children can learn more effectively when interacting with nature, people living with dementia can tap into memories through engaging the senses with nature, and who doesn’t feel calmer and happier after getting 5 minutes of fresh air.
With this in mind we have come up with 5 quick ways to build a bit of nature and the outdoors into your everyday life. We know carers are incredibly busy just going about day to day life so these activities are designed to be undertaken in a short space of time without preparation.
1.What are the birds doing
From your window see how many birds you can spot within a set amount of time. Can you identify them? What are they doing?
On a day with some blue sky and clouds try drawing some of the shapes of the clouds on a bit of paper, can you identify which way they are moving? Can you pick out any interesting shapes or patterns? – This can be done from inside the house at a big window if getting outdoors is a problem.
If you have a digital camera or camera phone, challenge each other to take 3 photos of things from or around your garden such as a green leaf, a soft flower, some wet mud etc. Once you have taken the photos sit down together to look at them and talk about the images. Do they look different on the camera? Were some items harder to find than others? You could take the photos together.
4.Touch and smell
Go into the garden or local green space and collect a range of different natural items that have different textures. Then, pass the items to the other person for them to feel and smell, what textures feel nice? Are some cold and clammy? Some dry and hard? The weight of a heavy stone may feel comforting in the hand of someone with a sensory processing disorder. The smell of a rose may evoke a particular memory for someone with dementia.
5.Look at the stars
There is something very calming and peaceful about looking at the stars, it also tends to put everything into perspective. On a clear night, why not grab a couple of blankets and a hot drink and spend 5 minutes sitting down looking up at the stars. Can you make out any constellations? Why not make your own up and name them!