People are being encouraged to connect with nature to help boost their mental health from home during the coronavirus lockdown.
A coalition of nature, environment and mental health organisations have launched a campaign to help people get their “Vitamin N” – a daily dose of nature which can maintain wellbeing.
The campaign has drawn up a series of activities, from building a bug hotel on the doorstep to bird-watching from the window and learning nature-themed yoga poses, for lockdown families to try.
The #VitaminN campaign has been launched ahead of the Easter bank holiday, where fine weather would normally see people heading outdoors to enjoy the fresh air.
The coalition – which includes the RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, National Trust, WWF, the Wilderness Foundation, Nature Friendly Farming Network, The Climate Coalition, Mental Health Collective and Jordans Cereals – is highlighting a range of activities to help people connect with nature.
They include five top things to do over the Easter weekend:
– Early bird: Take part in RSPB’s #BreakfastBirdwatch for a moment of calm before you start the day.
– Spring scavenger hunt: Set the family an Easter challenge to fill empty egg cartons with a host of natural treasures.
– Grow your own: You don’t need a garden to grow your own veggies, just some seeds and a shallow tray.
– Build a bug hotel: Celebrate the invertebrates by creating a creepy-crawly community centre on your doorstep.
– Nature yoga: Learn a range of wildlife-themed yoga poses such as the frog and the heron.
Craig Bennett, newly-appointed CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Everyone should have the opportunity to experience the joy of wildlife in their daily lives.
“Its impact on our health and wellbeing is well proven – with regular contact known to reduce stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression.”
But with the Government’s important advice to stay home and restrict travel, it can be challenging to maintain this, he said.
“That’s why we’ve come together with our partners to highlight easy, fun and unusual ways for us all to connect with nature and the wildlife on our doorstep,” he added.
Mr Bennett said there were opportunities to make space for nature, from taking a moment to see what is outside the window to watching wildlife activity on webcams, or doing daily indoor nature-themed challenges.
Dr Amy Pollard, founder and director of Mental Health Collective, said: “With people across the country forced to stay in their homes and sacrifice the personal freedoms we take for granted, our collective mental health is under threat like never before.
“Nature soothes us and relieves anxiety, so we are pooling our ideas and resources to support people to connect with the natural world in any way they can.”