Exploring Norfolk’s winter wonderland

Blickling National Trust

As autumn passes the baton to winter, we can find ourselves slowing down. The colder weather may keep us indoors where there’s plenty of technology to entertain us. But too much screen time can leave us feeling more stressed. We’re becoming less connected to the natural world, yet research shows that spending time in nature is good for our health.

The Wildlife Trusts and the University of Essex report that nature experiences give us many health benefits. Nature reduces anxiety and stress and improves mood, self-esteem, and attention and concentration. Exposure to nature also increases immunity and can help reduce symptoms of ADHD in children. Such is the importance of nature to wellbeing that Richard Louv, co-founder of the Children & Nature Network, describes it as ‘Vitamin N’.

With shorter days and less sunlight, winter blues and even depression can strike but getting outdoors can lift our spirits. Despite the colder weather, winter can be the ideal time for a nature walk and Norfolk the ideal place. Continue reading

Autumn is the perfect time for a feast of fungi

Blickling Gold: Tracy Brighten

Autumn is my favourite time to get outdoors and go for a walk. Pick a sunny day and the backdrop of blue sky with golden trees takes your breath away. On days like this, my worries float away with the falling leaves.

Nature is my tonic. When life’s stresses weigh me down, a walk in the woods puts the spring back in my step. When I’m breathing in the earthiness of a downpour or watching birds take flight, I feel alive.  Continue reading

Books to open your mind and improve your life

Books to open your mind

We all have favourite books. Some books explore the human condition, helping us understand ourselves and each other. Other books teach us about nature with fascinating stories of wildlife and wilderness. Books that have the power to change us are those that challenge our beliefs and offer new perspectives. These books can lead us to live a more conscientious and compassionate life.

I’d like to share some of my favourite books in the areas of health and wellness, sustainable and ethical living, wildlife conservation, and family and education. These books have enlightened and inspired me to live a more considered life. I hope some of these books may help you in your life too.  Continue reading

Create a cafe for hungry garden birds and feel good

Help garden birds through the winter and feel the warmth of nature

Garden birds robin

The rental property we moved to recently was built on land where an old bungalow used to be. Except for three conifers, the garden was cleared and laid to lawn except for an empty flower bed which I turned over the other week hoping to attract robins and blackbirds with worms.

The garden may be neat, but it isn’t bird-friendly. Continue reading

When dietary changes make you a social outcast

By Tracy Brighten

Vegetarian sandwich

Make a decision to lose weight, change career, or have children, and friends and family generally meet the change with excitement and words of encouragement. But tell them you no longer eat meat, fish, or dairy, or even that you’re just thinking about it, and you find yourself being interrogated!

If your reasons for dietary changes are health based, you risk the usual ill-informed response that you can’t be healthy without meat. But if your reasons are ethics based, be prepared for an even rougher ride. Continue reading

Dairy free Christmas brings comfort and joy

By Tracy Brighten

December wasn’t an easy month to be dairy free, but thinking of calves taken from their mothers kept me on track 

I was already considering the next stage of my journey in eating more ethically, but the exposure of dairy industry cruelty was the motivation I needed. After witnessing the abuse of bobby calves, it was time for change. Continue reading

Local nature puts a spring in our step

It’s easy to overlook the local nature in our gardens and neighbourhood, but regular contact helps us tap into our roots 

Yellow Flower

Unless we’re lucky enough to live in the countryside, if we want to spend time in nature, we might wait for a day when we can head to a nature reserve, a wildlife sanctuary, or the coast. But in our busy life, days can turn to weeks, and weeks to months while we miss out on local nature.

Truth is that for many of us, the benefits of time in nature can be enjoyed much closer to home. Continue reading

Respite in Nature

By Tracy Brighten

A story of the stresses of urban life and the need for respite in nature 

Autumn tree for respite in nature

FICTION 

The car won’t start. Flat battery. It looks like I’ll have to catch the bus. But I’ve not been on a bus for years. Anxiety charges through me.

I’ve psyched myself up and I’m ready to go, but it’s pouring with rain. The windows will be steamed up and I won’t see a thing. I’ll have to rub a circle to see out and hope that my breath doesn’t fill the space faster than I can take in the view of the hills. Then there’s the smell of damp raincoats. I loathe the smell of damp raincoats. Continue reading

Spending time in nature is good for your soul

By Tracy Brighten

Spending time in nature has many health benefits, yet we find ourselves more removed from the natural world

Walk in nature

In economically developed countries, we enjoy medical and technological advances that improve our health and lifespan. We have education, transport, energy, and communication systems that give us greater opportunities for careers, business and travel, as well as a more comfortable lifestyle.

You might expect people to be happier than ever. Continue reading

Nature prevents disease and boosts wellbeing

By Tracy Brighten

Scientific research backs up what conservation groups and nature enthusiasts know: spending time in nature is good for us

Research is increasingly showing the importance of a public health focus on disease prevention, with nature gaining ground as a natural approach to tackle a range of health problems. Continue reading