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Richard Fowler
Bringing The Outdoors Indoors
by Richard Fowler

Bringing The Outdoors IndoorsThe UK lockdowns meant we became very familiar with our four walls and family. Being stuck indoors was something we got used to. Yet, in many ways, with all those local walks we may have become just as familiar with our outdoors – nature.

That’s a good thing. Because it’s no secret that being in nature reduces stress and boosts our mood – the sites, smells, and sounds, make us more present and grounded – something experienced anytime you walk barefoot on grass. So it may be of interest to hear of a groundbreaking online experiment into how best to bring the benefits of nature to us indoors.

With so many of life’s hubs, nodes and patterns arranged around bricks and mortar, maybe bringing nature into our homes through technology and other means, might help us cope with the four walls and family that much better.

In collaboration with the BBC, a research team from Exeter, who are driving this research, say there are many ways of enjoying nature at home. So what are those ways?

I’m no Mr Green finger but I’ve noticed three surprising ways nature has crept into my home during the lockdowns.

Until I got hit with the Covid lurgy, the only green plant in my home was one you never had to water, courtesy of IKEA. Then in my bed-ridden state, a Peace Lily was delivered to my doorstep by a sympathetic friend. Taking pride of place next to my desk, it now softens and lifts the vibe in the room. And who would’ve guessed, but apparently, they’re brilliant air-purifiers too.

On a techier note, with our increasingly integrated relationship with technology, my virtual reality headset has opened up whole new ‘outdoor’ experiences – like taking a wing suit skydive, a sunset paraglide over mountains, and a scuba dive in the Coral Reef. These fully immersive VR experiences allow you to see the Earth from a whole new perspective, relieving you from the day’s stress.

And, when teaching in lockdown, my first ever experience of a Forest School lesson did not disappoint. I had no idea how many fun creations you can make from things found just outside your doorstep – and how therapeutic making a dream catcher could be! From catapults to noughts and crosses, all these can be yours with a little elder wood (and some string and scissors).

We have to wait until the summer to get the preliminary findings of the research on the benefits of bringing nature indoors. But at a time in history where we are trying to reimagine our relationship with the environment, whatever the results, I think the positive effect of nature on our wellbeing tells us something about who we are and where we fit in the world. We are not separate from it, nor equal to it; we are at once creatures of the planet, yet at the same time, we transcend it.

As we come out of lockdown and get back to our busy life patterns, let’s not forget the reconnection we made with nature in lockdown.

And knowing that more, not less, connection with nature’s playground is a good thing – let’s find ways to bring that playground indoors.

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