It seems strange that in a world infused with nature, we have to be reminded to ‘reconnect’ with it. The correlation between good mental health and exposure to nature is actually incredibly simple, from an evolutionary stance; trees represent shelter, green grass represents food, and water is, well, water. It’s no wonder that the industrialisation and urbanisation of our species has resulted in poor mental health being so common, but why has it taken so long to work it out?
In January this year, I was diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder - the result of a traumatic childhood event. Ever since the age of 12, I have struggled to regulate my emotions on a dramatic scale. This has landed me in all kinds of trouble; with family, friends, teachers, employers and boyfriends. Of course, I take responsibility for actions that are within my control, but it has made everything a whole lot harder. Just the other day, I was with some school friends whom I hadn’t seen for four years or so, and one boy asked; ‘Do you still cry all the time?’ The answer is, no - well, not so much anymore.
In recent months, I have seen a dramatic improvement in my mental health. This is for several reasons; a diagnosis explaining why I feel like this, therapy, a new job - but of all of these, it is my recent discovery of bird-watching and swimming in the sea that has helped me to manage the most. Over the past 50 years, the UK’s songbird population has decreased by a staggering 50% - just one example of the fact that, as humans, we are not taking care of the things that make us happy.
Emma, the amazing woman who introduced me to the power of the sea
It’s taken me 22 years to work out what makes me happy, but for many people, it takes several decades. Here at Curious, we have been working with independent charity, SongBird Survival, to encourage the British public to reconnect with the world around them - in particular, the songbirds that they see or hear. Apart from educating the public about the need to protect these special species, many of which are becoming rarer, or even face extinction, we have raised awareness of the mental health benefits associated with birds and bird-watching.
According to a recent survey, 72% of us feel less stressed when listening to bird-song, and considering the year that we have all had due to the pandemic - this has never been more poignant. When cars and planes stopped, we learnt to listen to the birds again because we could hear them! Especially with our hour of ‘prescribed’ outdoor exercise at play.
However, why is it that songbirds in particular create so much joy? I think that it is because they are, quite simply, perfect. Their entire reason for being is to bring music and bright colours to our skies, although, unfortunately this happens less than in previous years.
Through working with SongBird Survival, I have met and spoken to people that understand the importance of protecting the small birds, and I have helped to convey their message to the world. This has manifested in taking scientific discoveries from the lab to the press, creating campaigns and working with wonderful people to generate video content. My favourite project involved working with erudite and passionate author, Charlie Corbett, to help launch his new book, 12 Birds To Save Your Life. The book, published by Penguin, is a personal memoir that conveys how reconnecting with nature helped Charlie deal with the premature death of his mother.
As part of this project, I helped create filmed interviews between Charlie and the charity’s CEO, Susan Morgan, meaning we could marry up the charity’s great work with the meaning behind the book. Our work succeeded in some important media coverage in the likes of Country Life and various BBC Radio Stations.
Reading Charlie’s book affirmed my belief that songbirds really can save your life, and his words encapsulate this power perfectly. Through bringing his, and the charity’s, work to the public eye, I hope that I have helped others find their peace within nature, too.
Communication is a powerful tool to help others, and to help things that need protecting. Knowing the part I play in helping SongBird Survival has brought me great joy. I look forward to building my career in Public Relations, as I firmly believe that the pen is far mightier than the sword!