It is universally acknowledged that spending less time outdoors is having a significant impact on both our mental and physical wellbeing. One of the many consequences of this is something called ‘nature deficit disorder’. As a result of this many people are suffering from increasing anxiety, stress and behavioural issues than in previous generations.
The good news is that a simple outdoor activity such as birdwatching can have a massive impact on mental wellbeing. It forces you to slow down and live in the present moment, providing a distraction from the complexities of everyday life. Combine it with a walk, and the fresh air and exercise can drastically improve your concentration, memory and mood.
Dr Mike Wheeler – Head of Biological Sciences and the University’s resident birding expert – is more than aware of the therapeutic effect that birdwatching can provide, as it is an activity he undertakes regularly for this very reason. Keen to share his enthusiasm, Mike has been working on a Green Impact project to promote the benefits of birdwatching to others.
Whilst working alongside Mike, we have created a new birdwatching information board and hope to promote the Conservation Area on St John’s Campus where the board is to be installed in early May 2022. The board features information about twelve different birds that might be spotted in the area, as well as QR codes that take you to the RSPB website. The website gives more in-depth information, as well as audio files of each of the birds’ songs.
Mike recently hosted some birdwatching walks on St John’s Campus, focusing on this new Conservation Area to the side of the Edward Elgar and Charles Darwin buildings (standing looking at St John’s main reception, go around Edward Elgar to the right, following the University Mile markers, and you will find it), and we want to continue to encourage both staff and students to use the area as much as possible.
So next time you feel the need for a break from all the deadlines, feel free to escape to this little piece of heaven on campus, and enjoy some time with the feathered community. Feedback from Mike’s recent walks suggests it will leave you feeling calm, inspired, energised and excited…!