Last year we published research showing how a smartphone app that prompted people to notice and note the good things in nature was good for people’s wellbeing. Bringing clinically significant improvements in quality of life for those with a mental health difficulty. We’ve now released a public version – ‘Nature Notes’ within the iOS app Go Jauntly.Earlier this year we published a report, Noticing Nature, with the National Trust. Through a YouGov survey of 2096 adults we looked at how noticing the simple things in everyday nature was related to wellbeing. We found that noticing nature was an important contributor to both being happy and feeling that life is worthwhile. Sadly, we also found that around 80% of people reported that they rarely or never watched wildlife or smelled wildflowers. 62% of people rarely or never listened to bird song or took a moment to notice butterflies or bees. Many people need a prompt to engage with nature.
Nature Notes prompts people to simply write a sentence about the good things they notice in nature. The frequency of the prompts can be adjusted – daily, weekly, monthly or never. A photo and location can be added too. It’s a simple activity that can be done most places, from home or in the city – all that’s needed is a glimpse of every day nature, a tree or a bird, a flower emerging from a crack in the pavement. Once added users can scroll through their notes to take a look at their good things in nature. More widely, the Go Jauntly app allows users to discover or create their own walks – an ideal combination of walks in nature for physical health and connecting with nature for mental wellbeing.
Our research shows noticing the good things in nature increases nature connectedness, and thereby mental wellbeing. We also found that those who started with a lower level of nature connectedness benefited most. We’ve also completed a content analysis of the good things in nature. This revealed several themes – feelings such as joy and calm, changes over time, engaging with wildlife (from watching squirrels to listening to birdsong), noting nature’s beauty, flowers, trees and of course, the weather! These provide the inspiration for those that need it – but it really is simply remembering to take a moment to pause, look and listen. From birdsong to the movement of leaves in the breeze – taking a little time to note down the good things you notice makes a difference.
The original research was part of the £1.3 million Natural Environment Research Council funded project IWUN: Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature. The Nature Connectedness Research Group at the University of Derby led the work package that developed the smartphone intervention.
Richardson, M., Hallam, J., & Lumber, R. (2015). One thousand good things in nature: The aspects of nature that lead to increased nature connectedness. Environmental Values, 24(5), 603-619.
Richardson, M. & Sheffield, D. (2017). Three good things in nature: Noticing nearby nature brings sustained increases in connection with nature. Psyecology, 8(1), 1-32.
McEwan, K., Richardson, M., Sheffield, D., Ferguson, F. J., & Brindley, P. (2019). A Smartphone App for Improving Mental Health through Connecting with Urban Nature. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(18), 3373.
McEwan, K., Ferguson, F. J., Richardson, M., & Cameron, R. (2020). The good things in urban nature: A thematic framework for optimising urban planning for nature connectedness. Landscape and Urban Planning, 194, 103687.