Let nature heal you


Connecting with nature has positive benefits for our health and wellbeing, says Dorset Local Nature Partnership manager Maria Clarke

The ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ is a set of evidence-based actions that h ave been developed by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) – it’s a list of simple ways we can all improve our own health by connecting with people, being active, learning, taking notice/being mindful and giving. If you do any of these while connecting with nature, there are added benefits.
I know personally that walking, being in a natural space or simply stopping to take notice of life around me makes me feel good, and can help reduce any anxieties and stresses.
At the start of the first Covid-19 lockdown, I decided to give myself a daily dose of nature and to really take notice of nature and even post a photo or video on Facebook. It gave me something to focus on and grounded me in uncertain times. I loved it so much, and felt so many benefits, that I’ve not stopped since! More than 1,300 days later I’m still posting daily pictures, constantly learning about the world around me, trying to be present.

Green prescribing
There is increasing scientific evidence of nature’s value to our wellbeing. The Wildlife Trust has recently published a study that shows nature-based wellbeing activities could provide cost savings to the NHS of £635 million pounds.
However, we know that there are health inequalities within Dorset, and not everyone has equal access to green spaces. Dorset Wildlife Trust and partners such as the Dorset Local Nature Partnership (Dorset LNP) are working together to have nature-based wellbeing opportunities embedded in the local health system. We are working not only to improve access to nature, but also to promote the benefits of nature in support of both physical and mental health.
Health and Nature Dorset (or HAND) is a new collaboration, led by Dorset LNP, to strengthen the county’s nature-based wellbeing. HAND includes a wide range of organisations such as NHS Dorset, Public Health Dorset, Dorset Wildlife Trust, Dorset National Landscape, Active Dorset, National Trust, Dorset Council and BCP Council.

Give nature a go
Last year, HAND ran a staff wellbeing programme for the Integrated Care System (those working in NHS Trusts, social care, primary care, and the unitary councils) called Give Nature a Go. Activity sessions were run by HAND members, including forest bathing, yoga, mindfulness and wellbeing walks (sessions were run at DWT’s Kingcombe Meadows, Wild Woodbury and Brownsea Island).
We would like to thank our funders, including Southern Co-op, National Lottery Heritage Fund, National Lottery Community Fund and Natural England, for supporting this fantastic work.
Communities can also work together to create wilder, green places on their doorsteps, helping nature to thrive. Our Nextdoor Nature programme helps to support communities leading their own events and activities to help wildlife thrive within their local area.

Visit dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk to discover more opportunities to connect with nature.


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