Being outdoors in nature is shown to have a positive impact on mental health. The good news for rainy days and days when we are stuck at home is that we can also reap some of the benefits of nature from indoors.
Check that all items are safe for the person to explore, especially if they tend to explore with their mouth.
Guidance and instructions
Buy or grow non-toxic flowers or potted plants to have in the home. Ensure they are positioned where the person can see them. Involve the person in plant care and watering. Notice when the person pays attention to them and share their interest by looking with them and commenting. Draw attention to them as they grow or flower to support the person to see how they change through time as this is a benefit of our experience with nature.
- Collect leaves, flowers, feathers, tree bark, seeds, vegetables and fruit – explore through touch, sight, smell and sound.
- Use items from nature to decorate the home or in art projects.
- Take photos of favourite places in nature and put them up on the walls or in albums. Take time to look through them, particularly when they complement a seasonal experience – e.g. looking at images of snow before going out into the snow.
- Arrange a comfortable place to sit or lie that gives good access to the sights and sounds of nature, for example by a window that looks out over a view of trees or the sky.
- Play recordings of natural sounds such as birdsong, ocean waves or rainfall which can be found on YouTube and apps
- Save glass jars and use them to make mini-gardens (also known as terrariums), using plants, soil, stones, seashells and anything else you’d like to include.
- Combine auditory, visual, tactile and olfactory stimulation to create a more immersive experience of nature. For example, play bird song whilst showing pictures or video of birds or explore petals and leaves whilst offering essential oils to smell.
- In the dark look at a film on YouTube of the night sky or a projection and together listen to the calls of nocturnal animals such as owls, foxes, badges, night jar birds or the fluttering of moths.
What to observe and record
- What responses do you observe in the person during the activity or in response to their exposure to nature?
- Is the response different to different aspects of nature or experiences? If so, in what way?
- Is there any indication of seeking or rejecting any particular type of experience?
© Dr Julie Calveley, BSc(Hons) Psychology, BSc(Hons) Nursing, Registered Learning Disabilities Nurse
Email: [email protected]
Created October 2020