The Covid-19 pandemic has led many people to seek refuge in nature and reconnect with the natural world. As poor mental health continues to rise in the UK, and early research suggests the Covid-19 pandemic could worsen this trend, evidence shows that investing time in nature can help to reduce stress and mental fatigue.
Back in 2000 I experienced burn out after climbing a corporate ladder that was leaning against the wrong wall. After experiencing a heart-breaking divorce, financial hardship and the sudden death of both my parents, I fled to the Lake District – an area of outstanding natural beauty and diverse wildlife – and immersed myself in the natural world. Having discovered first-hand how reconnecting with nature helped me heal I then set off on a personal mission to help reconnect more people to nature and our true nature.
Nature gives rise to all life, including our own. We are made up of nature’s elements. Our bodies and minds originated in the natural world. We are nature and part of something much greater than ourselves – the web of life.
‘There’s never been a more important time to bring our awareness back to the natural world’
In our fast-paced modern world, so many of us have forgotten this undeniable truth. We live our lives on autopilot, disconnected from nature. Our lives have become increasingly urban and spent indoors. Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions have limited our ability to connect with each other socially and emotionally and neglecting our innate bond with nature is the cause of much of the suffering and unwellness we are now experiencing in our world.
There has never been a more important time to bring our awareness back to the natural world. Experiencing nature will make us happier and healthier – science has proved it. But practising mindfulness in nature makes us more aware of our selves and wiser, too. The natural world holds one of life’s greatest truths – our wellbeing is intimately linked to it, so what we do to nature we do ultimately to ourselves. Most importantly, when we connect we care, and what we care about we protect and nurture.
‘The pandemic has led many to seek refuge in nature’
Almost 15 years after burning out and escaping into nature I had an idea to start sharing my love of nature and the health benefits of mindful nature-connectedness. In 2014, I started guiding Natural Mindfulness therapeutic walks in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds. My book Natural Mindfulness, your personal guide to the healing power of nature connection, was published in 2018 and I started training local Natural Mindfulness guides to help me. A year later I launched my first international online guide training programme and during lockdown, I have trained nearly 300 guides from 29 countries worldwide. The Covid pandemic has led many to seek refuge in nature but has also inspired people to guide others towards the healing power of nature connection.