COVID-19 nature resources

Our Nature Connectedness Research Group has provided some resources to help you look after your mental wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Find a friend in nature

Even when we can’t get out and about, nature can still help us keep well. When you are required to stay at or close to home, and be socially distant, it’s important to look after your mental wellbeing.

Your wellbeing can benefit from a close relationship with nature. This ‘friendship with nature’ isn’t dependent on taking a trip into distant natural landscapes, it can be made at or very close to home. Here are some ways you can let everyday nature lend a hand:

  1. Notice and write down the ‘Good Things in Nature’
  2. Explore your relationship with nature
  3. Undertake an audio nature meditation
  4. Immerse yourself in Virtual Nature – let nature help manage your emotions

These are four nature-based suggestions to help stay well. You can try a variety of approaches to maintain your wellbeing and find ones that work for you. You can try these other ideas from the MARCH Network and reach out for further support from the NHS if you feel you need it.

1 – Notice and write down the ‘good things in nature’

If you can see a little nature from your home, a tree, visiting birds or flowers, for example, you can do this exercise every day. Simply take a moment to tune in and notice everyday nature.

Good things about nature written in a notepad

You can write a sentence about what you experience, from the beauty of small things to the whole of the sky. It could be as simple as hearing a bird singing or the movement of a tree in the breeze, seeing changes in the clouds or noticing flowers bloom.

Find a friend in nature, be it the local birds or a favoured tree. If you can, take some action to encourage birds closer to your home – provide food or water, for example.

Close up of a Starling bird perched on the handlebars of a bicycle
Cherry blossom tree in Spring sunshine

2 – Use art and words to explore your relationship with nature

A close relationship with nature is good for wellbeing. And a closer relationship with nature comes through noticing nature and its beauty, feeling the joy and calm nature brings, celebrating and expressing what nature means to you, and caring for nature.

Explore and deepen your relationship with nature in ways that work for you. Go outside if you can but you can also do it from home through art, music or words. Be creative!

Here are five types of relationship with nature to get you started.

Senses

If you can, take a moment to notice any everyday nature nearby. Tune in to everyday nature through your senses. Listen to birdsong or watch the breeze in a tree.

Beauty

Notice nature’s beauty. Take time to appreciate beauty in nature and engage with it through drawing or taking a photograph of a flower.

Drawing of a bird on a newspaper page

Emotions

Notice how nature makes you feel – the joy and calm it can bring. Find happiness and wonder in nature: birds being active, their flight or an intricate spider's web.

Write down and share your feelings about nature, using social media for example the #NaturalHealthService on Twitter.

Meaning

Some of the greatest works of art and favourite poems are about nature. It means a great deal to people. Find and share songs, stories, poems and art that are about nature.

For example, compile a nature playlist on YouTube, try reading some classic nature writing, work that is immersed in nature such as The Pageant of Summer by Richard Jefferies available for free. Similarly, read some classic poetry about nature, such as On a Lane in Spring by John Clare, is freely available.

Explore and express how nature brings meaning to your life. Create your own songs, stories, poems and pictures of nature.

Care

Take action for nature. Think about what you can do for nature. If you can, feed the birds, plant some bee-friendly flowers, dig a pond and create homes for nature.

3 – An audio nature meditation

If you don’t have access to nature, or would like to try something different, try meditating on nature.

Girl laying down with headphones on

Make sure to sit in a quiet and undisturbed place for the next 10 minutes. Check that the volume of your speaker or earphones is high enough without being too loud. This recording will guide you through a short meditation. The bell will ring at the beginning and at the end.

Settle into a comfortable position, either on a straight-backed chair, or on a soft surface on the floor. When you are ready to start, try as far as possible to adopt an erect, dignified, and comfortable posture. Allow your posture to express and support your intention to be awake and consciously present.

If you are sitting on a chair, have your feet flat on the floor with your legs uncrossed. If you are sitting on the floor, experiment with the height of the cushion or stool until you are comfortably and firmly supported, with your knees lower than your hips. 

Gently close your eyes as you listen:

4 – Let nature help manage your emotions

If you can spend a little time outside in greener places, do so. If not, even viewing pictures and videos of nature can help. Take time to notice and share the good things in nature. Let nature help manage your moods and emotions.

Immerse yourself in Virtual Nature. If you can, find a spot away from distractions and use a bigger screen, to view some photos or videos of nature (try five or ten minutes and see how you go), here are two examples:

YouTube 4K Spring Forest video thumbnail
YouTube Autumn Forest Walk video thumbnail

If nature isn’t working for you

Try to do things you enjoy and keep your mind active. Spend time doing things you enjoy. This might include reading, indoor hobbies, listening to music, favourite radio programmes or watching TV. You can also play games, do crosswords or puzzles, try drawing or painting. Check out ways to get creative from the MARCH Network.

Whatever it is, find something that works for you and take time to relax.

Wider guidance

There’s plenty of general advice available. Visit guidance from trustworthy sources, for example the NHS's Every Mind Matters in the UK, for example, try to:

Finally, there’s also urgent support and advice available from the NHS for those finding the situation very difficult.

Further reading