health, Lifestyle, psychology, thoughts & opinion

Biodiversity and Wellbeing

Most of us know that spending time in nature is good for us—however, it’s more than that. Knowing about nature is also improves our wellbeing. And if lockdown has taught us anything, when confined, we retreat to nature in our own way.

But before we get into all that, I need to explain a term and why its essential- biodiversity. Biodiversity is the variety of life in the world.  That’s a global definition which can be applied to your locality. Some localities are more biodiverse than others.

So, how does this make us happy and healthy?

Spending Time in Nature

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Research shows that people who spend time in nature are happier, rested and more active. Spending time in nature is thought to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. Children also benefit from spending time in nature.

Nature provides children with an environment to explore and learn. Children who spend nature have been found to have fewer behaviour challenges in school. Children who garden also find science easier to understand. Gardening is an excellent way to teach children about food production and looking after the environment.  

In elderly people, some research has shown that gardening for one hour or more a week was associated with improved self-esteem and lower depression.

As you can see, spending time in nature can mean different things to different people. For some, it could be hiking. But to others, it could be tending a garden. So, there are plenty of ways you can incorporate nature into your routine.

Perceived Biodiversity

Photo by Alex Shaw on Unsplash

Perceived biodiversity means you believe you live in a place full of different plants and animals. When you look around, you see many species. And if research is to be believed, this will make you happier.

The thing is, do you know the different species around you. Most of us learned a little in primary school, but nothing since. So take the time to learning about plants and animals in your area;it could improve your wellbeing.   

Changing Your Environment.

So far, we have learned that spending time in nature is good for us. And that the more we know about nature, the more we notice. Which, in turn, makes us happier. But most of us don’t live by the coast or on the edge of a wood.

So, what can we do?

 Walk

In Ireland, we are currently in a lockdown, but we can travel within 5km of our homes. A great way to get out in nature is to walk. I wouldn’t say my 5km is particularly biodiverse, but there’s plenty to see if I look closely.

Pay attention

Pay attention to your surroundings, what plants do you see climbing walls, in gardens. Or even poking up in cracks in the pavement. What birds and other animals are around you.

Use your space.

If you are lucky enough to have a garden use it. Plant species that attract bees and other insects. There is plenty of information online. If you are in Ireland, local Tidy Towns websites have some great information.

If like me you don’t have a garden, build an indoor garden on your windowsill. Taking care of plants is good for you. And it brightens up your space.

Get the kids involved.

As we no bio-education is essential because it helps us see what’s around us. Some schools have school garden programmes. Right now, school programmes may not be possible. So, why not start learning from home. Make a bee garden or record all the birds you see in the garden.

Get involved in citizen science.

There are science monitoring organisations that have tools for regular people to collect data about their environment. In Ireland, Biodiversity Ireland have an app called the Biodiversity Data Capture App

But I know many of you are in the US. NASA have some excellent citizen science initiatives you can check out here.

Keep a Nature Journal

Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash

Recently I have been reading Emma Mitchells‘ ‘The Wild Remedy.’ The book is nature and wellbeing diary over a year. The author not only writes about her outdoor adventures but paints, draws and takes pictures. So why not keep a nature journal. It may help you feel more engaged and it will help you pay attention to seasonal changes.

Conclusion

Lockdown has made us appreciate things like nature and art, we previously took for granted. But, spending time in nature is a great way to boost our wellbeing. Furthermore, we can expand it further by learning about biodiversity around us.

That’s all from me, over to you. Tell me about your walks and travels and what you are doing to improve biodiversity.

Leave me a comment!

Featured image: Photo by Wynand van Poortvliet on Unsplash

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