‘Take a nocturnal stroll’: readers’ tips on connecting with nature


Leave your phone behind

During lockdown, I have really valued my daily walks. I can’t recommend enough that you should leave your phone and any technology at home and really immerse yourself in the sounds and sights of nature. I was always distracted: checking notifications, taking too many photographs or worrying about things that needed to be done. When I began walking with nothing in my pockets, I found myself listening to the leaves rustle in the wind or the sound of the stream flowing beside me: it always leaves me with a sense of tranquillity. Christiana, Burnley

Bring wildlife into your garden

The garden has been a saviour for our physical and mental health during the pandemic. The planting was chosen to attract pollinators all year round and provide shelter and is supplemented by bee hotels. There are many bird and squirrel feeders dotted around. Some food left out on the patio encourages nightly visits by several foxes. It is best not to be too tidy in the garden at this time of year. Leave the grass a bit longer, put out fresh water and don’t cut off the seed heads on your flowers. All of these will provide invaluable food and shelter for overwintering insects, birds and small mammals. Nuts and seeds are also welcome, all year round. Mary Baillie, South Lanarkshire

Immerse yourself in nature's sights - and sounds

Have a window on the world

These days, my mobility is impaired. My apartment does not have a balcony, so connecting with nature involves watching birds from my window or looking at nearby trees. I find a lot of serenity and satisfaction in seeing the changes in my house plants on the windowsills as they put out new leaves or blossoms. They are truly remarkable. Diane, Seattle, Washington

Embrace your inner farmer

Why not volunteer with your local community farm? When lockdown started, mine put a call out on Facebook for help with lambing and I responded. Nine months on, I am still there once a week and loving working with sheep, pigs, cattle and chickens. It is just me at 6.30am talking to the lambs, promising to hurry up with their sheep nuts and throwing windfall apples into the pigsty to distract them from nibbling on my bootlaces as I climb in to give them their breakfast. Heidi Colthup, Kent

Bring wildlife into your garden ... perhaps with bee hotels.

Green up your home office

Even experiencing nature through a screen can provide measurable health benefits, including lower blood pressure, slower heart rates and stress reduction. When I am browsing through Facebook, Instagram or anywhere else on the web, I make sure I take the time to stop and appreciate other people’s nature photos and videos. They can be really spectacular and I am so grateful to those who share them. I like to stream the outdoors to the indoors via live webcams of birds, fish and animals in the wild or in curated spaces such as aquariums and zoos.

People who spend a lot of time on Zoom often put nature views on their screen background, but what about creating a real nature view just for yourself? That is what I have done recently. Behind my laptop screen, I have arranged five healthy indoor plants into a mini green wall of lush greenery. Nobody but me can see them, but that is fine, because their only purpose is to help me chill through long Zoom calls. I have my own secret garden right there on my desk. Sue Thomas, Bournemouth

Don’t be afraid of the dark

Go out in the evening when it gets dark. I have noticed nocturnal creatures such as bats and hedgehogs in and around my garden. I realised the hedgehogs were coming under my gate, so I made a hole for them to make it easier. I recommend getting a wildlife camera to see what is going on at night. It is often fascinating and surprising. Brian, Horsham


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