The link between nature and wellbeing

19 May 2021

May is National Walking Month, and Mental Health Awareness Month, so today’s blog is all about walking, wellbeing and nature. Read our tips below, collated together with the Sustainable UCL team.

A green park with trees and paths

Throughout Mental Health Awareness Week earlier this month, we were talking about the connection between engaging with nature and your mental health and wellbeing. Wellbeing is a state of physical, mental and emotional wellness, and having a good balance will support you to engage in university life in a positive way.

Spending time with nature, either in the great outdoors or by caring for your plants or animals, can be a huge mood booster – it can help reduce stress, enable you to feel relaxed, improve your physical health, help you be more active, support your self-esteem, and more!

In collaboration with the Sustainable UCL team, we’ve brought together some tips on how to enhance your wellbeing from nature – even when you’re in the depths of revision or essay writing.

1. Take breaks with nature

Term 3 can mean we spend a lot of time indoors revising. Make sure you take screen breaks in nature.

You can do this by having lunch in a park, meeting up with friends outdoors, or by going for a short trip around the block on wheels or on foot. Just walking along a quiet road with trees instead of a busy road can help reduce stress.

2. Green your space 

During lockdowns, many of us saw our plant collections increase dramatically. Watching a plant (or five) grow can be hugely rewarding, and seeing leaves unfurl over a few days is pretty special.

If you’re lucky enough to have some outdoor space, or even if you only have space indoors, why not try your hand at planting! Swap seeds with friends to save money, take cuttings to provide plants for your roommates, or grow some vegetables to save money on veg. Caring for something else may help you care for yourself too.

3. Mark out time to do something in nature 

If you’re in London, there are some amazing natural spaces, so why not explore? Near campus, we’re lucky to have Regent’s Park, a good spot to enjoy some lunch whilst watching the giraffes at London Zoo. Nearby Primrose Hill has spectacular views over the city, and to the north, Hampstead Heath has natural ponds so you can swim alongside the ducks.

There are countless parks scattered across London, with canal paths and walkways interlinking them, so you can grab a moments peace from the hustle and bustle of the city.

UCL research shows that bringing nature into urban environments can improve wellbeing, increase climate-resilience, and improve air quality. Sustainable UCL’s Wild Bloomsbury project is doing just that. They aim to add 10,000m2 of extra biodiverse space by 2024 to create a healthy and liveable Bloomsbury for everyone. For more tips and to find out about their work, visit UCL’s Wild Bloomsbury webpage. Join them in June for some planting sessions on campus