It’s a brand new year, a brand new decade, and if 2020 taught us anything it’s that being indoors all the time can wreak havoc on your wellbeing. Sometimes even on the darkest of days, a short walk outside and a breath of fresh air is the simplest of pleasures.
Being out in nature has a multitude of benefits for both your physical and mental health. So in 2021, our new year’s resolution is to help you keep up the habit of regularly breathing in the great outdoors.
How to connect with nature in lockdown
At the time of writing, daily outdoor exercise such as walking, running, cycling, sports and swimming is still permitted during the pandemic. While gyms and pools are closed, we have a chance to take our workouts out in the open, or catch up with friends and family on socially distanced strolls. If you’re struggling to get motivated to get outside, why not try mobile apps like Couch to 5k or audio walking experiences.
If you’ve got children and want to encourage them to connect with nature, you can introduce them to games when out and about, like ‘I Spy’ or the rainbow game, where you challenge them to find things matching each colour of the rainbow. Bringing leaves, shells and flowers back home can also lead to fun natural art projects.
For those living in a built-up area without much greenery to enjoy, trust that even walking outdoors in the city can help you relieve eye strain from screens, breathe easier with fresh oxygen, soak in some vitamin D and give you a chance for peaceful solitude with your favourite music - perfect for cramped, noisy households. Be sure to wrap up warm too and invest in high quality clothes and shoes for jogging, hiking, and wild swimming, because comfort is key to keeping up the habit of getting outdoors regularly.
If you are shielding indoors or don’t feel safe going out right now, you can still connect to nature. Studies show that even looking at photos of nature could help lower your stress levels, so why not watch some David Attenborough wildlife documentaries, or set your computer screensaver to a picture of your favourite beach, mountain or forest? You can add some greenery to your home too by decorating with houseplants, which can be calming to look at and to look after, as well as boosting your indoor air quality.
Do you have have trouble switching off or getting to sleep? Try listening to the sounds of nature through podcasts. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a garden, you might also consider spending time out there even in the winter. Activities such as gardening, outdoor yoga or reading can be hugely beneficial to your wellbeing, or even just enjoy your cup of coffee away from the sofa each morning.
Mental health benefits of natureAnyone who has travelled somewhere remote and rural knows just how good it feels to get off the grid, but even small busts of time in nature can do wonders for your mental health. Here are just some of the ways you can enjoy greater psychological wellbeing from being outdoors:
- Improve your mood, reducing stress and anger
- Boost your confidence and self-esteem
- Prevent and treat anxiety and depression
- Create meaningful connections with your community
- Help regulate your sleep cycle
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
— Albert Einstein
Physical health benefits of natureDid you know that spending just 120 minutes a week in nature is linked to greater health outcomes? That’s less than 20 minutes a day, so everyone can make time to invest in their physical health by getting outdoors. Here are some more benefits of being out in nature regularly for your body as well as your mind:
- Lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, reducing stress
- Improved air quality can reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses such as asthma and lung disease
- Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease through regular mobility
Being active outdoors can manage weight and work on flexibility and muscle tone
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”
— John Burroughs
Fight climate change in the great outdoorsSpending time in nature isn't just good for you , it’s good for the planet too! Here are some ideas to make a positive impact on the world while enjoying the great outdoors:
- Embark on a litter pick or beach clean to reduce plastic pollution in your local area. Click here for some up-to-date advice on litter picking safely during Covid-19 restrictions.
- Plant trees to help recover biodiversity and absorb carbon emissions. Here is how to plant a tree in your garden, or you can volunteer with organisations like Trees for Life or Woodland Trust to help plant trees on a larger scale.
- Help protect native wildlife in National Parks by volunteering.
- Get involved in your local community croft or allotments and learn how to grow your own food.
- Put your fitness to the test and take part in a sponsored run, climb, walk or swim and donate the proceeds to an environmental charity.
“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere."
— Laura Ingalls Wilder
Ideas for outdoor eating and drinking
It’s easy to enjoy the outdoors in the summer months, but as the weather stays cold, dark, wet and icy, the desire to hibernate inside grows stronger.
That’s why bringing hot drinks with you on walks or hikes - and particularly after an outdoor swim - can really help motivate you to keep going. We love brewing fresh coffee or tea and taking a reusable coffee cup or travel mug out with us to keep it piping hot. You could even fill a thermos up with soup for a nourishing lunch, or pack a lunchbox or lunch bag with snacks to keep your energy up when out and about.
If you’re exercising outdoors, like running or cycling, it’s also really important to stay hydrated even if you don’t feel as thirsty in the cold, so remember to fill up your water bottle! For a refreshing update on plain water, why not try infusing your drinks with fruit and herbs? Our glass infuser bottle is perfect for natural flavoured water as well as hot and cold tea - we love adding lemon, blueberries and mint.
“Time spent amongst trees is never wasted time.”
— Katrina Mayer
Get outdoors with your WAKEcup
This month, to encourage you to get out into nature, we’re calling all WAKEcups to take their owner for an adventure. Whether it's a walk in your local park or a swim in the ocean, bring your WAKEcup with you and post your snaps on Instagram. Make sure to tag us @globalwakecup and use the hashtag #WakeCupOutdoors, and at the end of January, we’ll pick a winner to get £50 worth of vouchers to spend in our online store. Good luck!
Here are some great examples to get you inspired for your adventure: