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Can birdwatching improve mood, lower stress, and reduce anxiety?

Health and Mental Health

Can birdwatching improve mood, lower stress, and reduce anxiety?

This week saw 2023’s World Mental Health Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues.

Natalie White, Birda Co-Founder:

“The healing power of nature was paramount in getting me through my struggles with cancer. It’s motivated me to do more to protect our natural world, inspire others to do the same, and leave a legacy for my daughters.”

As the changing of seasons starts to bring the darker days and colder weather, with two million people in the UK experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) every year, characterised by low mood, fatigue, insomnia and an array of other depressive symptoms. With the loss of sunlight and the chilly weather, people tend to spend less time outdoors, yet a recent study unveiled that just 50 minutes a day of time spent outdoors can have positive effects on concentration, memory retention, and feelings of happiness.

Although experts have long asserted the positive effects that nature can have on mental health, it’s undeniable that the current climate has shone a light on the critical importance of spending time outdoors, with a recent report by King’s College London unveiling the positive correlation between seeing and hearing birds and improvements in mental well-being. Ecological Economics also unveiled in a 2020 study that there was a positive correlation between our happiness and the variety of bird species around our towns and cities.

The birdwatching app, Birda, aims to strengthen the relationship between individuals and the nature that surrounds us. Whether it’s going for a walk, sitting at a park, or taking up an activity such as birdwatching, nature affects people in different ways – especially for those living in congested areas. A study published by BioScience measured different nature characteristics in urban neighbourhoods, finding that vegetation cover and an abundance of birds were positively associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress.

John White, Birda Co-Founder:

“Having worked for two large multinationals, I realised that corporate life was not what I wanted. Together, Natalie and I had an idea to turn our passion for wildlife and the outdoors into a business. We launched our first website and mobile app in 2013 for users to share their wildlife sightings from parks and reserves across Southern Africa. Life’s been an epic adventure ever since, and I look forward to continuing it with Birda.”

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