Our friends at the RSPB have given us the lowdown on birdwatching, and why you should give your mind the break it deserves by taking up the pastime this winter.
Mindfulness is an important part of self-care. Taking the time to be mindful of your surroundings has been shown to reduce anxiety and also be a preventive tool for depression. And while we're all guilty of a tendency to spread ourselves too thin, there are techniques we can use to reclaim some of that time, simply by being mindful of the present.
It’s unlikely birdwatching springs to mind when considering ways to practice mindfulness. But when you consider that it's all about putting your worries aside to focus on the present moment. It's developing an unbiased observer’s awareness of your surroundings, and, as it turns out, there's a lot of crossover.
Just as mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress, a 2017 study found that when people are around more birds in their daily lives, their mental health improves. They also experienced reduced prevalence and severity of depression, anxiety, and stress. Previous research has even indicated that listening to birdsong contributes to perceived attention restoration and stress recovery.
This January, the RSPB are asking everyone all over the UK to get involved in the Big Garden Birdwatch. It’s completely free and all you need is a spare hour over the weekend to watch and record the birds you see. You don’t even need a garden; you can do it out your window or in your local park. It’s a perfect excuse to practice mindfulness, to allocate time in a busy schedule to do nothing but watch the birds and focus on the present.
How To Take Part:
- Sign up online at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch or text BIRD to 70030
- Receive exclusive access to content and bird ID guides.
- Spend one hour, at any time of day between January 25th and 27th, observing and recording the birds you see.
- Tell us your results!