How Winterwatch can help you appreciate nature
Media Volunteer Bryan talks about how nature programs like Winterwatch can help with your mental health during lockdown in his latest blog.
Since the first lockdown in March last year, engaging in nature has been a lifeline for a lot of people.
Due to a combination of TV lockdown viewing and a renewed interest in nature, the BBC2 show Winterwatch has garnered more viewers than before – the first episode of Winterwatch in January 2021 attracted 2.6 million viewers, compared to 1.7m in 2020.
This blog is a small appreciation of Winterwatch (and the wider Watch series), and what we can learn from it during lockdown and post-pandemic.
It’s Comfort TV
The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 has undoubtedly affected people’s mental health. According to the Office of National Statistics, the number of people showing symptoms of depression has almost doubled since the start of the pandemic.
One way which people have coped during lockdown is watching TV. Mental health charity SANE says that rewatching shows alleviates anxiety as it creates feelings of comfort and familiarity.
Watching TV about nature can evoke those feelings too. BBC runs a project which explores how experiencing nature virtually without leaving the house can also beat lockdown blues.
Their mindful moment’s segment is meditative viewing, and watching the show develops your knowledge of what’s occurring in nature around the UK without leaving your couch. But it also motivates you to get out there as well…
The show makes you more appreciative of nature
The benefits of going outside and appreciating nature have always been apparent pre-COVID, but it has been given a renewed focus during lockdown.
Winterwatch is aware its audience is looking for some sort of escapism during these unprecedented times, but it also doesn’t shy away from the fact that nature acts as a coping mechanism during lockdown, such as looking after wildlife
It highlights the importance of community during lockdown
As well as being comfort TV and highlighting the wonders of nature, Winterwatch also encourages a community spirit. Viewers can send in photos of wildlife and take part in activities such as bird-watching and gardening.
Greener Kirkcaldy also motivates people to take part in the community and engage in nature. If you’re looking for inspiration for where to walk around Kirkcaldy for example, a guide can be found here.
You also don’t need to set off into the woods to be at one with nature. If you have a garden you can grow your own fruit and vegetables and create habitats to encourage biodiversity – the Winterwatch website has a blog on how you can make the most of bird feedings.
After the pandemic
The way in which COVID-19 has changed the world has raised questions on how we live our lives post-pandemic. Will we still work from home? Will our relationship with the natural world change?
In terms of engaging with nature, its benefits won’t go away. Michael McCarthy sums it up well: “The natural world is there for us, even in pandemics, even in lockdowns; it is there to console and repair and recharge us, often unrecognised and unacknowledged, but still giving life to every one of us, regardless.”|