Are birds stress relievers?
Research conducted by Mind shows that approximately 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year in the UK. With depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar being some of the most common conditions, we are left to find new ways to ease our discomfort. Peace and relaxation can be found in places much closer than you think, with your garden or outdoor space being one of them. Increasing scientific evidence has shown that spending time with your wild birds and Mother Nature has a profound positive impact on our mental wellbeing, and here are six reasons why.
A safe place
Going outside and listening to the songbirds sing, you'll notice your body and mind will begin to relax, and there's a good reason for it! According to Julian Treasure, author of Sound Business, "People find birdsong relaxing and reassuring because over thousands of years they have learnt when the birds sing, they are safe. Birdsong is also nature's alarm clock, with the dawn chorus signalling the start of the day, so it stimulates us cognitively." During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people who were stuck at home said they heard more songbirds, which comforted and calmed them during a time of crisis. So if you ever needed the assurance of feeling safe, go outside and say hello to your garden birds! You can attract more songbirds by placing extra feeders outside and ensuring they are topped up regularly with quality bird food.
An act of kindness
Did you know many bird populations are in decline due to fewer natural nesting holes and a lack of food sources? Scientific studies show that helping others can increase our sense of meaning and satisfaction with life, plus boost our self-confidence. So helping a species is a great way to ward off symptoms of depression and anxiety. This can be easily achieved by simply placing a bird box in your outdoor space! Once you have set up your box, sit back, relax and see what birds will be your regular occupants. Wild birds will appreciate the help as natural nesting holes are hard to find. If you are a nesting novice and not sure what box to go for, or you have a particular species you want to attract, check out our Beginner's Guide to Putting up a Nest Box which will fill you in on all you need to know.
Keep the mind engaged
Nature and wild birds have so much to offer our senses. The different sights, colours, smells and sounds found outside can help keep the mind entertained and provide a fantastic distraction for those dealing with mental health conditions. Some have even said that songbirds bring on memories from the good ol' days, and getting outside to connect with nature and listen to the birds can be a valuable reminiscence activity. Additionally, repetition can make unsettled minds feel at ease, so regularly stepping outside to look for birds and identify the species can be a calming activity.
Take a deep breath in
Getting out to say hello to your wild birds and breathing in the fresh air works wonders for the mind, body and soul. Research has shown that spending as little as 10 minutes a day outdoors can significantly improve the mental health of those suffering from anxiety, depression and dementia. Being outside is also an excellent way of sourcing Vitamin D which can boost your mood and is vital for building strong bones and muscles.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to switch off in a 24/7 world with modern technology dominating all. This could lead you to feel burned out and trigger anxiety, depression and other unsettling mental health concerns. If you ever need to find calmness in the chaos of technology, all you need to do is step outside. When watching your garden birds, you will find yourself being more still and silent as any noise or movement may scare them away. Many find this process a very meditative activity as it allows you to spend time in a quiet place and be present in the moment without any distractions.
Caring for garden birds gives you a great excuse to get some steps in. Taking a walk around your outdoor space to fill up bird feeders or examining a nest box to see if it's occupied will provide you with regular movement and routine. Keeping active will relieve you of tension and stress, boost physical and mental energy, and release the 'happy hormone' Dopamine, which will give off a euphoric feeling that improves your mood.