We know that nature can make a real difference to our mental and physical health, and nature can provide support for us in difficult times. This page provides some links to some great ideas and tips to help you connect with nature to support your health and wellbeing.
Whether you are visiting the Peak District National Park or spending time in your own local green space, you can gain lots of benefits from connecting to nature. Connecting to nature is deeper than just spending time outside; it is about feeling part of the natural world and not separate from it.
Feeling part of nature and having a deep emotional relationship with it helps to bring meaning and satisfaction with life. Derby University Nature Connectedness research group have developed the five pathways to nature connection.
Five Ways to Wellbeing with Nature
The Five Ways to Wellbeing 5 steps to mental wellbeing - NHS (www.nhs.uk) developed by the New Economics Foundation in 2008 is a well-established and useful tool for promoting wellbeing. However, it doesn’t make any specific reference to nature. The Nature Connectedness Research Group at Derby University have developed this connection.
Social relationships are important for wellbeing, be with and talk to people – about anything, about nature! Share your wildlife experiences with the friends and family or perhaps take some friends to your favourite greenspace to share what you enjoy about it.
Visit peakdistrictconnect for ways to connect to nature.
Be aware of the world around you, savour the moment, notice nature. Noticing nature, its beauty, your emotions in nature and what it means to you are key to developing a closer relationship with nature – which is good for you and provides something to connect with others about.
For some ideas on how to help take notice, download our guide to Mindfulness with Nature. Or get involved with National Parks UK Look Wild which uses a free nature identification app that will name plants and animals for you and contribute to a huge National Park-led citizens’ science project at the same time.
Take part in community life, do something for a friend – do something for nature in your garden or volunteer in your local nature reserve.
Have a look at how you can get involved with looking after the National Park through volunteering. Or find some ideas of how to help wildlife with the RSPB Give Nature a Home in Your Garden | Your Personal Plan - The RSPB, or the Wildlife Trusts Actions | The Wildlife Trusts.
Walk or cycle when you can, to local green spaces to connect with others, to notice, to give and learn – connect actively with nature. Research shows that activity in natural environments also brings greater benefits than exercise indoors.
Try something new, rediscover your childhood wonder for nature, learn that people are part of the wider natural world and nature matters for human health.
Find out more about nature in the Peak District on our biodiversity-action-plan pages. Or why not spend some time learning about the special moorland habitat that we have here in the Peak District with what-to-see-moorland-species created by Moors for the Future. You could learn about some of the other special National Parks in the UK through the UK National Parks website.
National Health and Wellbeing with Nature Support
There is a growing recognition of the vital importance of connecting with nature for our health and wellbeing. Many national wildlife organisations have created useful resources to help you reconnect with our environment:
The Mental Health Foundation and WWF have joined forces to bring you Thriving with Nature; a free guidebook which explores the relationship between nature, wellbeing and mental health.
The Forestry Commission has ideas for using forests to support your wellbeing with activities like forest bathing and mindfulness. Or enjoy the calming nature of forests from your home with their virtual forest bathing.
Nature for health and wellbeing | The Wildlife Trusts provides details of the Wildlife Trust’s Nature for Wellbeing work. They also run a campaign to encourage you to connect with nature called 30 days wild. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is also helping to support health and wellbeing Health & wellbeing | Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.
The RSPB has loads of ideas and resources to help kids and families connect with nature Nature Activities for Kids | Fun & Learning - The RSPB.
The Sensory Trust is a leading authority on inclusive and sensory design. They create meaningful and lasting connections between people of all ages and abilities and the natural world. Nature Activity Ideas for All Ages – Sensory Trust
Local General Health and Wellbeing Support
There are many local organisations that can provide health and wellbeing support:
- Live Life Better Derbyshire
- Active Derbyshire
- Derbyshire Mind
- The Derbyshire Federation for Mental Health (dfmh.co.uk)
- Derby & Derbyshire - Emotional Health & Wellbeing Toolkit
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