FINDING WAYS to get back in touch with nature can be tough in today’s mile-a-minute world but if you’re keen to have a go then there’s no better way than getting involved in the 30 Days Wild challenge.
This month-long project takes place throughout June and encourages participants to do something – it can be big or small – to connect with nature daily by doing Random Acts of Wildness.
Why try 30 Days Wild
Organisers, the UK’s Wildlife Trusts, are happy to have non-UK residents take up the challenge. In fact, my Munster-based family took part in the 2015 30 Days Wild challenge because of my relationship with Ulster Wildlife, which was a frequent contributor to my environment column during my newsprint days.
My two daughters and I had a blast, coming up with ideas, getting to run around in a rainstorm, climbing trees, counting bugs, going on forest walks etc. It’s amazing how many ideas you can come up with if you put your mind to it.
But there’s an even more important reason why it’s a good idea to do something ‘wild’ every day. Research shows that people who take part in a challenge like 30 Days Wild find their attitude to nature changing and even report improved physical and mental wellbeing.
It’s been known for some time that taking frequent walks among trees helps relieve stress and is beneficial for your overall health. The Japanese actually have term for it – Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing.
Good for nature, body and mind
Dr Miles Richardson, Head of Psychology at the University of Derby, who conducted an impact study after last year’s challenge, says: “The evaluation of 30 Days Wild provides good evidence that time in, and a connection with nature can bring sustained benefits to public health, reducing demands on our health services, while also improving pro-nature behaviours. Even in urban areas, nature can provide a simple solution to complex problems.”
By taking the time to stop, even for a moment, and notice something in nature, however small, you’re developing your ability to appreciate the world that exists outside the normal hum of daily life.
I have certainly never been more appreciative of the positive role nature plays in my life than since I changed careers. After taking our two daughters to the school bus in the morning I’ll often walk past our house, down a quiet rural road, and stop for a few moments at a small bridge, taking in the sounds and changes in the trees etc.
It’s something I wouldn’t have allowed myself the time to do in the past and it seems to stave off any concerns I might have for the future. Our dog Dandy also thinks it a great idea!
One simple act can make a difference when it comes to taking notice of the world around you. Since starting to blog I’ve been getting our 10-year-old daughter to take nature pictures on my phone. After taking a really impressive close-up of a dandelion and seeing it on screen she commented, in a surprised tone, that she had never realised dandelions were “so beautiful”! That’s a feeling that anyone can experience whether they are 10 or 100.
We live in the countryside, but if you’re living in a city and feel like you need some inspiration it might be worth checking out RTÉ One’s four-part series Wild Cities which looks at wildlife living in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Belfast and concludes on Sunday May 29 at 6.30pm.
“Whether you take time out to simply smell a wildflower, listen to birdsong, explore a local wild place or leave a part of your garden to grow wild for a month. This year, the conservation organisation aims to inspire people to carry out one million Random Acts of Wildness, listing 101 fun and intriguing ideas online to get you started,” say the 30 Days Wild organisers.
So, I guess there’s really no excuse for missing out on the opportunity to go ‘wild’ with thousands of other people this June – we certainly will!
If you would like to share the daily activities you end up doing as part of the challenge then pop them on twitter, Instragram and Facebook using the hashtag #30DaysWild.
If you have younger relatives that you think would like to take part and you’re looking for ideas check out my blog on springtime ideas (it’s still relevant despite the season change!).
And don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter to find out what we’ll be doing during our ‘wild’ days in June!