Dare to be wild! New review says get long-lasting feel-good factor from 30 Days Wild

Sky 179 (c) Matthew Roberts _
Sky © Matthew Roberts

The Wildlife Trusts and University of Derby evaluate the benefits of daily nature contact with 1,000 people over five years

The feel-good factor from simple daily contact with nature can last for months, once initiated, according to a new review from The Wildlife Trusts. The review is based on surveys completed by people taking part in 30 Days Wild – the UK’s biggest nature challenge which is run by The Wildlife Trusts and inspires daily acts of nature engagement every day during June.

Building on three peer-reviewed papers, the University of Derby has evaluated survey responses from more than 1,000 people over five years and discovered the enduring effects on wellbeing from participation in 30 Days Wild – the positive effects are still felt two months after the challenge is over.

30 Days Wild participants are provided with ideas, wallcharts and activity sheets that give everyone easy ways of enjoying nature whatever their location. These ‘random acts of wildness’ range from walking barefoot on grass, to sitting beneath a tree or watching birds on a feeder.

Key findings:

30 Days Wild – a five-year review is a summary of 1,105 people’s responses. The results show that taking part in 30 Days Wild not only significantly increases people’s wellbeing and heightened sense of nature – but that these positive increases are sustained beyond the life of the challenge – for a minimum of two months after it is over. The people who benefit most are those who have a relatively weak connection with nature at the start.

  • 30 Days Wild resulted in very significant increases in nature connectedness for those who began with a weak connection to nature – their nature connectedness rose by 56%
  • 30 Days Wild boosted the health of participants by an average of 30%
  • 30 Days Wild made people, particularly those who started with a relatively weak connection to nature, significantly happier
  • 30 Days Wild inspired significant increases in pro-nature behaviour

Other important findings include:

  • People were asked to rate their health, nature connectedness, happiness and pro-nature behaviour before beginning the challenge, again at the beginning of July when the challenge had finished, and then for a third time in September, two months after the challenge had finished. All positive increases were maintained both immediately after the challenge and also two months later.
  • Overall, those participants with the lowest connection to nature before doing the 30 Days Wild challenge gained the greatest benefits by taking part in the challenge.

Professor Miles Richardson, Professor of Human Factors and Nature Connectedness at the University of Derby, says:

“This five-year evaluation of 30 Days Wild has produced remarkable results – it shows the positive power of simple engagement with nature. We were thrilled to see that the significant increases in people’s health and happiness were still felt even two months after the 30 Days Wild challenge was over.

“The Wildlife Trusts have shown the importance of doing simple things to enjoy everyday nature and that it can bring considerable benefits. What really stood out was how the people who didn’t feel a connection with nature at the outset were the ones who benefitted most from taking part in 30 Days Wild.”

Over a million people have taken part in 30 Days Wild during the last five years. Last year, 2019, was the most successful so far, attracting 400,000 participants. This June, The Wildlife Trusts believe the challenge will prove more popular than ever as the UK battles with social restrictions and people are looking for ways to keep spirits up and entertain young families. Whilst time spent outside may be limited, daily nature activities – even at home – can open a door to a world of sensory delights, from listening to birdsong or growing a pot of wildflowers on a windowsill.

People of all ages can sign-up and download fun ideas, wallcharts, activity sheets and inspiration for going wild in nature during June.  This year the campaign is 100% digital and everyone can download materials for FREE.

Dom Higgins, head of health and education at The Wildlife Trusts, says:

“Every June, The Wildlife Trusts get very excited to see people becoming closer to nature in their daily lives. With 30 Days Wild there’s so much fun, enchantment and inspiration to be had. Connecting with nature every day, in an easy way, is a must have for our own wellbeing. That’s why The Wildlife Trusts are campaigning for better, wilder places near to where we all live and work so that everyone, everywhere, can enjoy nature on the doorstep.

“Dare to be wild this June! We want to encourage people who are least likely to spend time in nature in their daily lives to take part in the 30 Days Wild challenge and give it a go – those people who do not feel much of a connection to nature – because we know that they’re the ones who will benefit most from doing it.

“Our lives have been changed by coronavirus and this is giving people a reason to reflect on our relationship with nature, the way we live our lives and how we spend our free time.  Precious moments outside on a daily walk help us to relax and feel happier. Even watching wildlife from a window, or on a webcam, connects us to that sense of being a part of nature, not apart from it.”

30 Days Wild has attracted well-known supporters: TV presenters Ellie Harrison, Monty Don and Dr Amir Khan, The Vamps’ James McVey, fitness blogger Zanna van Dijk, and Birdgirl – Mya-Rose Craig, have lent their support to The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild challenge.

The 2020 challenge has brand new downloads to enjoy, including:

  • Wildlife gardening tips from Monty Don
  • Beginner’s guide to wildlife photography from award-winning George Stoyle
  • Wild fitness ideas from Zanna Van Dijk

Our Big Wild Weekend events will focus on nature at home – on Saturday 20th June everyone’s invited to camp in their back garden or create a wild and beautiful nature den indoors!

30 Days Wild – a five-year review can be downloaded here.

Sign-up, download the inspiration and get ready to share your daily #30DaysWild now! www.wildlifetrusts.org/30DaysWild

Actor Martin Shaw teams up with ornithologists to support well-being and mental health; encouraging us to “stop and watch”

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Robin by Gray Images

Actor Martin Shaw,  known for his roles in The Professionals, Judge John Deed and Inspector George Gently, has teamed up with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) to promote the value of connecting with nature through mindful birdwatching, as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

The well-being benefits of connecting with nature are now better recognised than ever before, with a growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating the positive effects on health and well-being that come from interacting with the natural world. Some GPs now prescribe birdwatching and other outdoor activities to help treat stress and other conditions.

Mindfulness has similarly been proved to support our mental well-being… so what if we combine the benefits of nature and birdwatching with mindfulness?

Actor Martin Shaw, working with the BTO, has done just that and produced a downloadable podcast, Stop to Watch – A time to be with nature. The podcast guides listeners through a mindfulness approach that can be used to let the stresses of the day melt away while you focus on birds.

Deb Lee of the BTO said, “We should not underestimate the healing power of taking time out to be with nature, particularly during these very strange and stressful times. Spending time with nature doesn’t have to take you to a nature reserve; it can be experienced from home – listening to the sounds, feeling the wind, or the sun. It is about focussing on what is around us and experiencing the wonder of it.”

The podcast is being launched as part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, which runs from 18–24th May.

The Stop to Watch podcast is free and can be downloaded from www.bto.org/podcast