A theme of my research into improving our relationship with nature for both human and nature’s wellbeing has been that the simple things in nature matter. Our first intervention was simply noticing the ‘good things in nature’. Jotting down the good things in nature each day for a week led to sustained increases in nature connectedness – which helps us feel good and function well – and also increases pro-nature behaviours.
More recently we developed a smartphone app to prompt people to notice the good things in urban nature. People wrote about breeze in the trees, beauty of flowers, active wildlife, changing seasons, birds singing. Doing so for a week led to a sustained improvement in nature connectedness and clinically significant improvements in mental health. It’s clear – simple moments matter. There is magic in the power of everyday nature because we evolved to make sense of nature.
Sadly, people tend not to notice nature. There are many demands for our attention and nature features less and less in our lives. Indeed, the climate and wildlife emergencies show that our relationship with nature is broken. Fixing that relationship requires transformational change throughout society. However, part of that change is more people being more aware of the benefits of a close relationship with nature. Reminding people to pause and notice the good things in nature.
We need a Green Care Code. A code where we care for nature and we care for ourselves. A future with more wildlife and more enjoyment of it. For those old enough, the green care code, makes on think of the green cross code road safety campaign, which raises a wider point, where are the Public information films for the climate emergency? Where are the information campaigns for the biodiversity crisis? Over the decades there have been public information films for crossing the road, road safety more generally, danger of farms and railways, swimming and ponds. There have also been extensive government health campaigns on smoking, drinking and eating. As there’s no well-being without nature’s well-being, new campaigns are needed as part of the transformational change required for a sustainable future. Currently, nature is overlooked too often. For example – as I’ve posted before – there’s no reference to the benefits of nature in the 5 Ways to Wellbeing. This matters because we need to emphasise the essential role of nature in our lives wherever we can.