It’s happened – Spring is here! Just in time for National Walk in the Park Day.

In this week’s blog we are literally sharing the joys of Spring and encouraging you to venture out and enjoy the benefits of our many beautiful parks and countryside.

Walking in nature will increase the release of the feel-good chemicals serotonin and endorphins – reducing anxiety, stress and depression. And as Spring brings the opportunity for more sunny days we actually feel more lively and our desire to get outside increases (now that winter has ended).

If you have been following any of our Youth Fairies, you will see that we all embrace the outdoors. When we share a little bit of what we get up to in our spare time it will often include a walk (often with a dog), whether it’s in woodlands or by the sea, in sunshine or rain (Youth Fairy Sian, loves walking in the rain!) we enjoy getting out and enjoying the countryside.  And… we know it’s good for us.

Have you noticed how much better you feel when you get outside and take a walk? Have you heard yourself saying “we just need to get out of the house for a bit”? There’s good reason for this, it is good for our health, physically and mentally.  And it’s good for our children too.

While walking in nature is good for you any time of year, as we move into Spring it can be particularly enticing:

  • There is more sunshine and so we are called out of our primitive winter desires to hibernate and stay in the warm and dry.
  • That sunshine actually makes us more lively, we want to get out more and serotonin (one of the feel good hormones) increases when it’s sunny and so our mood improves too.
  • Whether is sunny or raining (this is England) there is a link between getting out in our parks and countryside in nature and reducing anxiety and depression.
  • The endorphins which are released when we exercise trigger a positive feeling in the body too and are known to reduce stress and anxiety.

In last week’s blog we talked about the many benefits of getting enough good quality sleep and spending time outside in nature and enjoying a walk will also improve our sleep.  It also has the effect of enforcing a break from our screens and allows our brains to take a rest so that we can spend some time day-dreaming – which in turn will again improve our sleep.

For our children it’s the opportunity to take a break from screens:

  • Screens encourage our brains to be ‘switched on’ and stimulated and this constant stimulation can cause to feelings of overwhelm, frustration and fatigue.
  • When they take a break from their screens, we also give them the opportunity to day-dream and even (dare I say it?) to be bored. It’s in that boredom that we can become creative. Scientists have found that when we are daydreaming (or not focusing on anything in particular) a part of our brain responsible for problem solving and creativity is activated. This is on a subconscious level (so we don’t realise we are doing it) but it’s getting to work on those things we need to figure out.  Have you ever tried to remember someone’s name or a particular word that you can’t quite get off the tip of your tongue – then it pops into your head later out of nowhere when you are relaxing?  That’s what we’re talking about!
  • We can take this time create some of our 3Ps (positive action, positive interactions and positive thoughts).– the positives that increase our serotonin and help us feel happier and calmer  It’s a chance to talk about our days, share what’s been good, share dreams and plans. This can be an opportunity for us to embrace our inner child too and be silly and have fun. When was the last time you rolled down a hill or played hide and seek?

Being in nature gives us the opportunity to connect in different ways too. We can notice the beauty of a flower, the uniqueness of a stone, or stop and listen to a bird’s song. Have you notice how our children are really good at this? Simply appreciating what is around us can create calm and joy.

“Throughout the pandemic, nearly half (45%) of people
in the UK told us that visiting green spaces,
such as parks, helped them to cope”
Mental Health Foundation UK

As Spring is here, and our days are getting longer again, what are you going to do to encourage your family to reap the rewards of spending time in nature?  It’s an opportunity to be happier, healthier, more creative, improve your memory and sleep better – here’s a few ideas to get you started.

  • Get on your bike! There are bike rental places at many parks and seaside locations so even if you don’t own a bike there is nothing to stop you from giving it a go.
  • Park run – there are organised events for you to join (you can gently jog/walk at the back or set out to improve your own personal best). There are family and children Park Runs available – or you could just plan your own route.
  • Scavenger Hunt – create a nature treasure hunt for you and your family.
  • Keep it simple – just enjoy a walk.

We’d love to hear about how you enjoyed National Park Day – please come back and share with us on our Facebook pages.