Nature's cure for the Covid blues
Chances are you are reading this article in a state of Covid enforced lockdown. Even if you aren’t in lockdown, you are no doubt having to vigilantly avoid others every time you step outside and might be feeling increasingly anxious and isolated.
These are unnatural times, and this is an unnatural way of being for our socially orientated species. The severe impact the pandemic is having on our mental health is escalating. It is both alleviated and compounded by our pre-existing overreliance on social media and technology to entertain and distract us. It helps us stay connected to others yet feel isolated by it as well.
If you doubt this, take a moment to try this little exercise. Put this article aside for 5 minutes.
Sit comfortably, close your eyes and try to focus your mind on your breath. Can you stay calm, relaxed, and focus on your breath for five minutes? How long before you feel fidgety, reach for your mobile or another device?
This can be a particularly revealing exercise. If you feel too busy to try this exercise, even more revealing. I know, I have a regular personal struggle with mobile phone addiction. The need to keep it close by, to check for incoming SMS and email messages can be overwhelming. On good days I can switch it off or leave it behind to walk the dogs, do some yoga or meditation, and feel a lot calmer as a result. On bad days it rarely leaves my side and I’m checking far too regularly.
As human beings, we instinctively know and feel we are a part of nature and intuitively feel the benefit from this connection. Whether it’s the energizing breath of a salt-laden sea breeze, the relaxing tranquility sitting in the garden or beside a pot plant in the corner of the room.
There is no more urgent a time to be reminded of this and the good news is nature’s remedy is all around us, easily accessible and free!
I am a children’s and young adult author and illustrator with a passion for inspiring people to care for and connect with themselves through nature. My author website, www.russell-irving.net, contains links to an array of organisations and resources to help on this journey as well as a growing list of free activities for kids which are based on my books.
My new book, ‘The Rhythm of the Beach’, is suited to older readers. It is a reminder that when one slows down enough to notice, the natural patterns of life are palpable. On one sandy Australian beach, spring marks the return of the hooded plover from its winter home. The book reveals the beauty in the natural progression of time, and lives, through the seasons and moods experienced at the beach. Readers are encouraged to take some time to find this beauty in nature. To step back and determine who they truly are and what is important to them, even if there is no immediate answer (evoking the ancient wisdom of Dadirri, an Aboriginal practice from the Malak Malak people of the Daly River in the Northern Territory).
‘The Adventures of Jessica Jones & Sox and Grandpa’ is a wildlife adventure suited to 7 to 11 year olds. It follows the antics and adventures of two Jack Russell terriers as they meet some of the unique animals and plants that live in the forests of northern NSW in Australia. The book was inspired by an encounter with a Yellow Monday Cicada, a reminder of the beautiful and mysterious creatures that we are surrounded by. Apart from the deafening noise they make, most people know very little about cicadas and yet they live in most countries of the world and are as strange and fantastical as anything a sci-fi illustrator could create.
Taking some time to slow down and bearing witness to the natural wonders surrounding us provides a reassuring reminder we are not alone in this world. I wish you all well on your journey in finding personal solace through connecting with the natural world around you.
Russell Irving, September 2021