Health and Wellbeing through Nature

Wildlife friendly garden by Briony Baxter

Health and wellbeing through nature

Why is nature good for health and wellbeing?

There is increasing evidence that the natural environment supports and improves our health and wellbeing.  The natural world offers many opportunities to encourage and support us to live heathy lives, preventing poor health and therefore needing to access health services. As we all adjust our lives to stop the spread of Covid-19 we may feel increasingly isolated, so it is even more important to stay active and look after your mental wellbeing – while following government guidance.

Five Ways to Wellbeing

The Five Ways to Wellbeing sets out a simple framework to support physical and mental wellbeing. The natural environment offers fantastic ways to follow the five ways approach (as demonstrated by Essex University and The Wildlife Trusts.)

Below are some ideas on how to follow the Five Ways to Wellbeing during Covid-19. For all the latest updates from DWT on this rapidly changing situation please visit here.

Be Active

Most of us know that being active is good for our health and wellbeing (both physical and mental,) but many of us are living increasingly sedentary lives and this could increase in the current situation.  So, keep moving and go outside for your daily exercise allowance if you can, gaining physical and mental health benefits, (see the other ways below.)  Remember to follow government guidance on social distancing and not driving to places to exercise. If you do use our nature reserves, please help us to look after these important spaces for rare and threatened wildlife, you can read more here, and you can read about our dogs on leads policy here. Thank you.

Dog walking © Joey Cooke

Dog walking © Joey Cooke

Get Connected

By connecting with other people, we reduce social isolation, particularly essential at this time. You could share your current or past wildlife experiences with friends and family, even if this is over the phone or social media. Connections with nature are beneficial because it can give a focus away from everyday worries. Why not join our friendly wildlife community on social media? You can join us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Be connected © Pixabay

Take Notice

Our stress levels may be higher at the moment, so spend some time taking notice of the natural world around you.  By taking notice of nature, we can be in the present moment and be mindful, allowing us to focus on one thing at a time, which allows our minds to relax.  You might focus on what’s in your garden, out the window or while out for you once a day exercise – can you see or hear birds, see trees or insects or just the shapes of the clouds in the sky?  Or if you are self-isolating, why not have a look at our Barn Owl webcam. There is a lot to see currently as Spring is here and our gardens change daily. Why not share what you see through our #DorsetWildlifeWindow campaign

Barn Owls at Lorton Meadows Nature Reserve © Paul Williams

Barn Owls at Lorton Meadows Nature Reserve © Paul Williams

Keep Learning

There are many opportunities for learning based in, or on, the natural environment.  This can be formal, through courses and lessons, as well as informal by learning from others or just trying something new.  Look up a bird or flower online if you’re not sure what it is, or maybe ask friends on social media. Why not get your nature fix by watching a nature programme – there are many available on steaming services. Why not check out our wildlife activity sheets for ideas of things to make in the garden, from bat boxes to hedgehog homes. 

Keep Learning © Paul Harris/2020VISION

Children participating in  Forest School - Paul Harris/2020VISION


At this time our volunteering has been put on hold, but you can still give back to nature.  If you have a garden there some ideas on making it wildlife friendly, from The Wildlife Trusts. Or why now check out all our wildlife gardening tips to help feed pollinators in your garden? 

At this difficult time, we need your support more than ever. If you can, please consider joining us as a member - from just £3.50 per month you will be joining a wonderful community of 28,000 wildlife heroes, committed to creating a bright future for Dorset's wildlife and wild places.

Join us as a member today.



Hedgehog in autumn leaves (captive, rescue animal)

WildNet - Tom Marshall

Covid-19 news updates from DWT