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A Dose of Nature Therapy – how spending time outside can help with the stresses of university life

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Posted: Thursday 7th December 2017 by WildBlog

By Chloe McCance, University Undergraduate Student

As an undergraduate student, studying Psychology and English Literature at Bath Spa University, I find winding down impossible at times; especially considering the confinement to one room. My student room is multipurpose and serves as a study, sleeping and relaxing area where the boundaries can often become confused. Nature opens up a path away from the strain of screens and the persistence of stress caused by technology. My time spent outside is a welcome therapy and the perfect way to get some space from all of this.

In my second year, I discovered the quaint setting of Victoria Park, Bath, overlooked by the quintessential Royal crescent. At the very top of the park is the botanical gardens. I visited here regularly, enjoying the abundance of grey squirrels waiting to welcome me as soon as I walked through the gates. As I was studying for my exams, I found these gardens to be really important in helping with signs of university stress. I also found that taking nuts up to the park attracted lots of wildlife, mammals and birds alike. I went there with a friend the day before our exams started, to relax and escape the pressure. By the end of our visit, we were surrounded by nine squirrels, all waiting for a monkey nut to crack open.

What fills me with joy is being able to pinpoint the various personalities of the squirrels. I was sitting in the park on another occasion reading and had two squirrels surrounding me. Squirrels are very territorial and I wasn’t surprised to be distracted by their contrasting personalities at times. One was very shy and the other was climbing on my legs at one point, as I offered a monkey nut. This experience reminded me of my childhood when I’d visit parks with my family and fed the squirrels and the swans.

Once as I walked around the park, I noticed a cheeky baby blue tit hovering around me as I was feeding the squirrels. It seemed to follow me as I walked through the park and I crumbled up a peanut in the palm of my hand and stretched it out. I did not expect it, but the blue tit landed so softly on my hand and I could feel its soft, fledgling feathers tickling my fingertips. I got so overwhelmed with excitement about how, for a second, I was able to physically interact with such a beautiful little bird.

Interactions with nature can be one of the most rewarding experiences. For me, this is especially true when interacting with wildlife in natural settings. I believe mental health is very dependent on surroundings and visiting my local parks and green spaces has offered me a peace of mind. People often forget that something as simple as connecting with nature can be so therapeutic for the mind.

If you would like to connect more with nature and your local green spaces, why not visit one of our reserves for a lovely winter day outside. 

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