30 Days Wild: A Kick-Start to a Healthier You
I think deep down we all know that nature is good for us. It’s a cliché perhaps but most of us have experienced the unique sense of calm that arises when the mechanical and man-made landscapes that have come to dominate our lives give way and we find ourselves in a place of natural beauty when the aggressive din of the urban is eclipsed by the sound of birdsong.
As I write this I know I am giving in to my penchant for romanticism but it’s nonetheless true. Nature is good for us, we can feel it. Perhaps the fact that this is so obvious explains why the importance of nature to both our physical and mental health has, for so long, been overlooked. It’s something that we’ve taken for granted, and yet at the same time begun to forget, as the rush of modern life has meant that such natural encounters are, despairingly, fewer and farther between.
Taking Root: Scientific Proof
But, thankfully, this is changing. A growing body of research is proving the powerful restorative and, indeed, preventative benefits of nature for us all. A recent report commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe found that individuals who live close to trees and natural spaces are likely to have better physical and mental health, being less prone to inactivity and obesity, and less likely to require anti-depressant medication. In fact, research is demonstrating a whole range of benefits that come from increased time spent in nature, from reduced rates of inflammation and hypertension, to lower levels of stress, improved sleep and even greater life expectancy.
Best of all these findings aren’t confined to the walls of academia but are entering mainstream thinking. Mind, one of the UK’s leading mental health charities, is a long-time advocate for Eco-therapy, which engages individuals with mental health issues in outdoor activities as an alternative form of treatment. Similarly, projects such as NHS Forest are supporting healthcare professionals to better use green spaces to support patient recovery.
As the name suggests the organisation is planting trees around healthcare centres, a move inspired by a particularly exciting study which found that hospital patients whose rooms overlooked greenspace recovered more quickly than those without a natural view. Such research is demonstrating that even minimal exposure to nature, if frequent enough, can have a dramatic and transformative impact on our lives.
Enter #Random Acts of Wildness
It is from such thinking that the 30 Days Wild Campaign emerged. Launched in 2015 by The Wildlife Trusts movement - of which we, at Kent Wildlife Trust, are of course part - 30 Days Wild is all about integrating nature into our everyday lives; it’s about turning that metaphorical stopping to smell the roses into the literal equivalent.
The now-annual campaign brings together thousands of people across the UK for a common cause: to do something, anything to experience nature every day in June. A record-breaking 350,000 people took part across the UK this year, with individuals completing a whole host of wildlife-themed activities, or ‘Random Acts of Wildness’, from feeding the birds and rock pooling, to going plastic-free and dancing in the rain.
Two months after taking part in 30 Days Wild, there was a 30 per cent increase in the number of people who reported their health as excellent. Last year’s results also show people’s happiness continued to improve after 30 Days Wild ended, which illustrates its sustained impact. This is important as it is happiness and connecting with nature that influences improvements in healthDirector of Psychology, University of Derby
30 Days Wild isn’t designed to be a health campaign, it simply encourages people to experience and enjoy nature, but it’s been shown to have wide-ranging benefits. In 2015 a survey by the University of Derby found that individuals taking part in the 30 Days Wild challenge reported significant increases in feelings of connection to nature, happiness and health.
Dr Miles Richardson, Director of Psychology at the University of Derby, who led the research team noted that “Two months after taking part in 30 Days Wild, there was a 30 per cent increase in the number of people who reported their health as excellent. Last year’s results also show people’s happiness continued to improve after 30 Days Wild ended, which illustrates its sustained impact. This is important as it is happiness and connecting with nature that influences improvements in health”.
Clearly, time spent outdoors enjoying nature and wildlife is a win-win, and as nature-lovers, we are so not satisfied with just 30 days of natural adventures. So why not join us and Stay Wild all this year, and the next, and the next… you get the idea.
Convinced? Why not visit one of our many nature reserves - we have more than 65 across the county and they’re all free to enter - or pop by one of our visitor centres and learn more about what we do? Maybe try your hand at something new at one of our creative workshops or come along to a wild event. There are so many ways to Stay Wild and keep nature close.
Have 5 minutes to spare? Please help us to learn more about the links between nature and our health by filling in our short anonymous survey. Your feedback will support us to continue working to protect the natural world for wildlife and people.
Things to do to Stay Wild
Pop into our Visitor Centres
Visit a nature reserve