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"Connect with the Natural World"

Andy Brown – Head of Sustainability, Anglian Water

“A couple of years ago I suffered some very physical symptoms in response to an underlying mental wellbeing issue. These were diagnosed as severe panic attacks, or panic disorder, they always came in the middle of the night, made me think I was having a heart attack but were actually due to anxiety about my health and mortality. I was lucky enough to get some treatment and learn many strategies for manging the anxiety that I hadn’t even realised I had. But living through the biggest global pandemic in a generation is an interesting test of these coping strategies; exercise, meditation, talking openly and actively seeking out the positives in life. 

In this period of extended lockdown, one element has particularly come to the fore. This is the importance of my connection to the natural world. There is lots of research now that demonstrates the positive wellbeing benefits that you can gain from regularly connecting with nature; just being in green space and noticing the natural world around you. For me that’s an essential part of my daily routine, usually at the end of the day I have to get out; feel the sun, wind or rain, hear the bird song, see the landscape, smell the scents of flowers, cut grass or rain on the soil. In essence, I have to remind myself that I am part of a much wider natural system that is still moving through its usual cycles. 

I must confess that I love nature, I feel intimately connected to it and luckily, I have always felt that way. But as a result of the lockdown I have heard more and more people expressing how it’s one of the things that is getting them through and that they are discovering the green spaces in their local area that they never knew were there. So, if you haven’t already, I would say when you are out taking your exercise, find a footpath you have never used and don’t forget to look up, look around, and check out what nature you are sharing your local space with, look at it, listen to it, feel it and sketch it and see how it changes through the coming months. I hope it will give you the same uplift that it gives me and makes you feel part of something much bigger.”

Andy Brown

Nick Campbell