I was recently invited to write a guest blog for A Focus on Nature Org about the benefits of the natural world, particularly those suffering from disabilities or mental health issues.
With today being M.E Awareness Day coming up, it felt like the perfect time to share my piece celebrating ‘Nature Therapy’.
Lockdown has been an anxious and testing time for everyone, but one of the few benefits is that many of us have found a new or enhanced appreciation for the nature that is all around us. Taking to the outdoors and allowing the sounds, sights, and smells of the natural world to wash away some of the worries of daily life has been a lifesaver for many. For those that can’t get out of the digital world and social media has helped to bridge the gap and bring this wonderful world right into our homes.
For me, the healing power of nature is not a new concept and has been a vital part of my life since long before this global pandemic invaded our world.
I was diagnosed with M.E, a chronic neurological illness around ten years ago now and since then I have had to adapt to a very different and distinctly slower pace of life. Having spent the first few years of illness essentially housebound, I am now very grateful to have reached a stage of recovery where I can get out and about again, exploring the natural world with a camera in hand whenever health allows.
As soon as my eye meets the viewfinder, I am transported into a world of wonder where pain and malaise are forgotten, at least momentarily. I like to refer to this as my ‘nature therapy’ and whilst I wouldn’t go as far as to say it has saved my life, it has certainly enhanced it more than words could adequately describe.
I have always loved the natural world, but there is something about looking at it from a photographer’s perspective which gives you an even greater appreciation for the fascinating colours and forms which are all around us. Add in a macro lens and you can discover a tiny, hidden world full of amazing stories and creatures which can be easily overlooked by the naked eye.
I still find it a challenge to accept my limitations and whilst long walks and expeditions into the wilderness are impossible, this has encouraged me to seek out new adventures much closer to home.
I’m very lucky to live on the edge of a harbor which, although at first glance may not look particularly interesting, is actually a vital habitat for numerous species of birds. Quite literally just a stone’s throw from my home, I only have to take a few steps away from my own back door to immerse myself in its world with minimal effort, perfect when energy is at a premium!
From the beautiful and yet overlooked mallard ducks, with their vibrant iridescent green necks, to the delicate solitary bee searching for pollen among the wildflower bank, this little patch of paradise is never short of new discoveries or photo opportunities. Through my images, I hope to prove that you don’t have to venture to far-flung, exotic places to find that next great picture or memorable encounter.
As Vincent Van Goch once said: “If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”