This article first appeared in our Love issue of My Green Pod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 09 April 2021. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
Nature is good for us – yet lockdown has put some serious restrictions on our access to the outdoors.
Scientific evidence supports the idea that experiencing nature – even on a monitor screen – can do wonders for wellbeing. That’s great news, because we became a lot more dependent on screens when the pandemic moved communication, work and shopping online.
In February 2021, My Green Pod launched Nature TV as a way to bring you the benefits of nature, wherever you are.
Recorded at Broughton Hall Estate in North Yorkshire by sustainable production company Studio RTR, the three two-hour slow TV videos – Brook, Sheep and Rock – are a fun way to bring nature back to people’s lives. But behind the films’ lighthearted approach is a serious message.
Lockdown has made it clear that access to nature is an equalities issue. While some have enjoyed connecting with local beauty spots they had previously taken for granted, others have been left feeling isolated and alone.
Launched at a time when millions of us were stuck at home, Nature TV became an alternative solution for anyone suffering from the loss of access to greenery.
‘Surrogate nature’, which refers to the psychological benefits of looking at photos or videos of nature, has been studied in depth over the last decade.
Chartered Psychologist Dr Matthew Adams, Principal Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Brighton, is one of the UK’s leading experts in the psychological and social benefits of experiencing nature in all its forms, including virtual and mediated nature.
‘Research has established that we seem to have an innate preference for views of nature compared with built environments, and this applies to images as well as real views. What’s more, just viewing nature can have positive physiological and psychological effects – taking time to stop and stare at tree branches dancing in the breeze, or birds hopping around on a fence; even indoor plants appear to improve wellbeing when compared with how people experience spaces without them.’
DR MATTHEW ADAMS
Principal Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Brighton
‘Studies suggest that a healthy ‘dose’ of nature can come in many forms’, Matthew explains. ‘Representations of nature can have benefits like reducing stress and increasing pleasant feelings, whether it’s pictures of nature in people’s offices, artworks – even screensavers.’
For Matthew, using screens creatively to connect us with nature could be a great way of ‘smuggling in the benefits of experiencing natural environments’. This could lead to reduced stress and anxiety, a sense of belonging and a more mindful state – the top three benefits Matthew has seen ‘again and again’ in psychological studies alongside his own experience working with people in nature.
For many, spending more time at home and on the internet has led to more online shopping, sometimes out of necessity, and sometimes as a quick mood-enhancing fix.
When we use shopping as a way to make ourselves feel better, we often end up buying unnecessary products and funding the global consumerism that is damaging the planet.
Before you make that next purchase – or if you’re just feeling the call of the wild – watch some Nature TV. If you can reduce stress and anxiety levels before you shop, there’s a better chance of ending up with products you won’t regret buying.
On My Green Pod we’ve got ethical alternatives to the everyday products we all use. We have partnered with TreeSisters to plant a tree with every transaction as a way to say thank you for shopping in a way that could change the world.
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