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Revealed: Britain’s favourite outdoor activities to improve mood

While Blue Monday was last week, supposedly the most depressing day of the calendar, the first months of each year are synonymous with dark nights and low moods. But how are people using nature to feel more positive?

man beside dog walking in pathway surrounded by trees

Commissioned by Clipper Teas, which is currently working on a campaign to promote the benefits of time spent outside with TV horticulturalist the Drag Queen Gardener, a poll of 2,000 adults living in North East England found that 91% of respondents planned on lifting their spirits with time spent in nature. Woodland walks, birdwatching, stargazing, foraging, cold water swimming and outdoor yoga were among the most popular activities. 

Coming off the back of the Covid-19 pandemic and then subsequent cost-of-living crisis, not to mention the outbreak of war in Ukraine and Gaza, those taking part in the survey were also clear they needed ‘more lift than ever’ to combat the winter blues this season. 79% believe there is ‘too much’ bad news in the media.

As a result, 59% were trying to spread some positivity to combat this. Notably, almost one-third, 32%, considered positive sustainability stories as key to improving mood. However, the results also showed a gap between intent and actions. When asked about time in nature during 2023, the average adult admitted to only spending one hour per week in green environments, hence 66% planning on increasing this over the coming 12 months.

‘Starting my own allotment and diving into the world of gardening was not only incredibly healing for me, but it also allowed me to have a greater appreciation for the biodiversity we have in our gardens and green spaces,’ said the Drag Queen Gardener.

‘Joining Clipper and the GOOD Tea campaign as an ambassador fills me with pride, not only for its delightful taste (great for a cuppa in the garden) but for its commitment to doing good for the planet,’ they continued. ‘Beyond the exquisite tea, the campaign stands as a collective pledge to environmental stewardship. Through GOOD Tea, I’m excited to inspire others to reconnect with nature, especially in colder months.’

The poll also ranked the most popular outdoor activities for people looking to boost their mood. These were: 

1. Walking around my local park
2. Going on woodland walks
3. Gardening
4. Being on the loo-out for nature (squirrels, fish, insects, ducks and other birds)
5. Pet-sitting or dog walking
6. Birdwatching
7. Outdoors cycling
8. Outdoors running
9. Being more eco-friendly
10. Nature photography
11. Watching videos of nature
12. Listening to natural sounds (recordings or apps that play birdsong, ocean waves or rainfall, and more)
13. Filling my home with more house plants
14. Stargazing
15. Upcycling things which would otherwise get binned
16. Going on park runs
17. Being involved in a walking or rambling group
18. Decorating my home with natural materials (eg leaves, flowers, feathers, tree bark or seeds)
19. Build an animal habitat (birdboxes, insect hotels, hedgehog houses, or similar)
20. Filling my house with healing stones and crystals
21. Beachcombing
22. Litter-picking
23. Drawing or painting animals or nature scenes
24. Mountain climbing
25. Cold water swimming
26. Writing about animals or nature
27. Getting a new pet
28. Fishing
29. Foraging
30. Outdoor yoga

More on nature and mental health:

Is this the end? Workplace climate anxiety leaves young people hopeless

Protect nature for the good of public health, doctors warn

Children demand green time over screen time, survey suggests

Image: Julia Vivcharyk

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