I spend the majority of my free time outdoors: birding, writing, taking pictures, recording, watching and, occasionally, ambling absent any particular aim. For me, the wilds that lie beyond my front door are a second home. On in which I can be myself, think, muse and hide away from the tedium of modern life. From social media, work, deadlines, noise, concrete and the judgmental eyes of others. The outside world provides respite, plain and simple, though I do, at times, wonder just why – beyond wildlife and my choice of career – I spend so much time caked in mud and surrounded by leaves. With the results of said pondering shown below…
As a writer, time outside is vital to my creativity. It inspires, greatly, on so many levels that the virtues of such cannot easily be put to word. New behaviors witnessed and new locations explored providing sensory experiences to warbler about and the colours, sights and sounds of nature providing ample ammunition for my work. With such things providing the basis for further reading and exploration and thus the discovery of facts that broaden both my horizons and knowledge. Something which, in turn, often leads to the discovery of new ideas: from new means by which to watch wildlife, to new places requiring exploration. With nature, ultimately, increasing both my focus and motivation levels beyond that of anything else.
Some people head for the spa when tensed or stressed, while others simply shut themselves off and engross themselves in a good book or movie. I head for the wilds: to my local woodland – Half-Penny – or to the beach. For me, nothing helps you wind down and forget the woes of daily life quite like a walk in nature. Where the menial problems of life find themselves eclipsed by life and death dramas far greater than our own. The outdoors are therapeutic, almost medicinal, and have a habit of generating that “feel good feeling” that so many of us crave when tensions build and everything seems that little bit too much.
The stress relieving qualities of nature have also been scientifically proven, with those spending time outdoors boasting a lower level of cortisol – the hormone used as an indicator of stress. It really is rather good for you.
Everyone is surely familiar with the regular lapses in concentration that coincide with life indoors – when your attention to detail wavers as a result of monotony and boredom. For me, regular forays into the outdoors help rectify this. The intricate nature of our wild spaces – comprised of so many facets it beggars belief – almost always warranting closer investigation, and thus encouraging no end of scrutiny. Training the eyes and mind, so to speak, to peer past the obvious and into the finer aspects of what lies before you. A trait which, proceeding time outside, carries over into daily life. Of real benefit while proof reading, writing, reviewing or any other task requiring a critical eye. With time spent away during such excursions also providing a break from the norm and a change of scenery, making unsavory tasks just a little more bearable when you are forced to face them once more.
Time outside is good for you on a cellular level, we all know this – it helps you stay in shape. Though, for me, the main health benefits of a life in nature center more on the mind. With this point linking in more with the second yet deserving of a place of its own.
Anxiety and depression have a habit of creeping up on you – when things out of your control occur and leave you feeling thoroughly downtrodden. These things are, at times, inevitable. Though the blow can be softened somewhat by nature – which has a habit of putting things into perspective. The hardships faced by our wildlife, humbling and the beauty of the natural world, wholly uplifting. The outdoors provide a place to think in quiet solitude – where one can dwell, cry and vent away from prying eyes – and deliver on the quaint nothingness than so many of us crave. Simply put, nature keeps me sane, and has a knack for greatly increasing my sense of optimism when faced with troubling scenarios.
I suspect this is a trait shared with many who enjoy the outdoors, but nowhere do I feel more at home than when out and about in nature. Perhaps this is the suppressed hippy in me talking but I truly feel myself outside. Something which manifests itself in my choice of career, education, hobbies and later, may influence my choice of home. The troubles facing the natural world – besieged on all sides by the fruits of human ignorance – solidifying my resolve and motivating. To such an extent that I feel I must dedicate my time to protecting the places I hold so dear. And, ultimately, gifting me with the quiet satisfaction that in doing so, in standing up for nature, I am part of something far greater.
Now, this is the main reason I venture outside, and I suspect it will be for the majority of people who do the same. Outside, I feel happy. I enjoy what I do and gain great pleasure from observing the daily lives of the creatures with whom we share our world. It can be exciting – often overwhelmingly so – as you ogle life and death battles for territory, food or a mate. Nature is thrilling – more so than any TV soap or documentary. While also educational, for those, like me who like to learn, and seldom repetitive. Each day providing something alien and new. With smiles appearing frequently and the warm feeling generated when witnessing something altogether magical, as is often the case in nature, lasting for some time afterwards.
Common Blue – James Common
For more from James, you can follow him on Twitter (@CommonByNature) or check outside Facebook page by searching the same name.
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