At times, it might be difficult for us to find the time or the resources to stay connected with nature or to get outdoors. Maybe you are working long hours, facing inclement weather, healing from an illness, caring for a loved one, or due to recent events with COVID-19, forced inside for your safety and that of others.
Since we now know how important staying connected to nature is to one’s mental, physical and emotional well-being, we understand it can be discouraging to be stuck indoors for an extended period of time. So, we offer our top 10 ideas as to how to remain connected to nature and practice mindfulness all from inside your home.
1. Do some backyard birding
One of the best things about birding is that birds are, literally, everywhere. Whether you live in a big city or a rural setting, you are likely to see and hear birds just outside your window. This is a good opportunity to observe the behavior of more common species – even Rock Pigeons and House Sparrows have their charms! Or make a checklist of birds you can see from your window. Ask a friend or neighbor to do the same and share your sightings online via eBird or over the phone.
2. Challenge yourself to learn new bird calls
One of the most important (and sometimes most challenging) means for identifying birds is through their calls. While you might be familiar with the calls of your resident species, challenge yourself to learn the calls of five, ten or twenty birds from somewhere you hope to travel to one day. Make a game of it and see who in your household or circle of friends can learn the most calls in one week. Check out XenoCanto or Macaulay Library to get started.
3. Listen to a birding podcast
There are several amazing birding and bird-related podcasts to listen to. Some of our favorites include the American Birding Podcast (American Birding Association), Ray Brown’s Talkin’ Birds, BirdCallsRadio, This Birding Life, and Out There With the Birds. These podcasts are entertaining and full of bird news, interesting facts, trivia and so much more.
4. Join the Bird Academy
The Cornell Lab Bird Academy offers bird-related courses for bird enthusiasts of all age and skills levels. Learn about the biology of your favorite bird family, or how to create stunning field sketches. Improve your bird identification skills or understand how to encourage and engage in citizen science in your neighborhood.
5. Snuggle up with a good bird/nature-related book
There are a plethora of books related to birds and nature on the bookshelves these days. Some are compelling, others are harrowing, or light-hearted, depressing or hopeful. Some of our favorites include: Hope is the Thing with Feathers: A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds by Christopher Cokinos, Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw: One Woman’s Fight to Save the World’s Most Beautiful Bird by Bruce Barcott, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, edited by Camille T. Dungy, or anything by poet Mary Oliver.
6. Get back to your childhood – enjoy some great nature-based children’s books
For literature and art lovers, there is something quite special about children’s books. Though, at first glance, they might seem like simple, silly stories, many are quite intricate and detailed, and filled with lovely illustrations that can transport you to another world. Ruby’s Birds, by Mya Thompson tells the story of Ruby and how she discovers the amazing world of birding. Circle, by Jeannie Baker is an intricately illustrated tale of the Bar-tailed Godwit’s migration. Stellaluna, by Jannel Cannon, is a moving story about a fruit bat that becomes separated from her mother and ends up being cared for by a family of birds.
7. Listen to nature sounds while you work or rest
Noise pollution is a problem affecting humans and wildlife alike. While it might be hard to avoid the sounds of the city, slipping on some headphones and listening to rainforest sounds, whale songs, the babbling of a stream or the crashing ocean waves can help improve our concentration, help us relax and “escape” stress, even if just for a short time.
8. Plan your next birding trip
Have you always dreamed of traveling somewhere? Or of seeing a particular bird in the wild? Spending time researching future birding adventures to exciting destinations is a great way to pass the time, and gets you steps closer to making the trip a reality. Birding magazines often feature prime destinations for birding, along with top birding tour operators and ecolodges. A wealth of information is available on the internet, with sensational photos to entice your desires to see some of the amazing birds around the world.
9. Create art inspired by nature
There are endless ideas for creating nature-inspired art at home. Use items found just outside your door, such as stones, twigs, and dry leaves, to create a piece of art on recycled cardboard. Coloring isn’t just for kids anymore! There are a plethora of online resources where you can find, and print coloring pages of butterflies, birds or other nature-themed drawings. Cut up old magazines and photos to create a colorful collage.
10. Plant an indoor garden
Generally speaking, most of us produce a lot of food waste. But some of the food we discard can, instead, be used to plant a garden indoors. Cut old plastic bottles into pots, fill with some soil, and plant a garlic clove, or the bottom end of lettuce. Purchase seeds, such as tomatoes and peas, place them on wet paper towels and place them in ziplock bags. You can even find instructions online for creating a terrarium – a self-sustaining “ecosystem” that you can enjoy right in your own home.
These are our Top 10 ways to connect with nature from indoors. Do you have other ideas? Share them with us on Facebook. We would love to hear from you.