De-stress with a little practical conservation this month
September: the end of the holidays, kids back to school, the start of the university year, the daily commute to get through, projects and deadlines coming at you. With schedules filling up alarmingly quickly (planning for Christmas already?), we can try to fit in too much and end up under the weather, exhausted and burnt out.
We prescribe a natural tonic to help sustain your energy levels over this busy period: donating a few days as a conservation volunteer.
We prescribe a natural tonic to help sustain your energy levels
Conservation volunteering gives more than it takes
>> Getting physically active through outdoor work helps to optimise our cortisol awakening response, improving our cognition, balance and general health, as well as decreasing our stress levels.
>> Volunteering is proven to reduce stress by stimulating the reward area of the brain, creating positive feelings.
>> Spending time in green spaces can lower the heart rate and “provide a buffer against the negative health impact of stressful life events”.
Volunteering is proven to reduce stress by stimulating the reward area of the brain
Do It Yourself volunteering
If you’re not much of a joiner or prefer to keep your scheduled free time loosey-goosey, don’t think that conservation volunteering isn’t for you. Doing your bit can be as simple as:
>> Walkers: collect and recycle litter on the walk to work, the way back from the school run or during your daily stroll.
>> Runners: take a bag with you and litter-pick when you jog, a.k.a. the healthy pastime of ‘plogging’!
>> Dog walkers: do everyone a favour by retrieving a few discarded poop bags and depositing them in the dog poo bin.
>> Gardeners: make your garden hedgehog-friendly by creating log piles, stacking up dead leaves or putting in an accessible wildlife pond.
Even if you're not much of a joiner, you can create your own mini conservation project
Volunteer with a conservation group
New friends, new purpose or even a new career, get stuck into conservation volunteering with one of these brilliant groups and who knows what you might discover?
>> Try wildlife surveying with TCV: for those of us who already do plenty of heavy work in our day-to-day lives or who feel like physical work isn’t for them, participating in wildlife studies can be a gentler way to incorporate the benefits of conservation volunteering into our lives. Get started with the Lousehill Copse bat surveying walk, near Reading, on Thursday 5th September.
>> Become a member of your local Biodiversity Action Team: meeting weekly or fortnightly, these groups run practical working days in and around waterways, woodland and parkland. If you don’t have transport, the teams are usually able to arrange lifts in the local area. Don’t forget your wellies and water flask, as it’s usually both messy and thirsty work. Berkshire Biodiversity Action Team run projects every Thursday across the county, also in parts of Oxfordshire, south and mid-Buckinghamshire and occasionally in Surrey.
>> Assist the Canal and River Trust: Canal Crews offer one-day conservation volunteering opportunities helping to maintain the canal infrastructure, control invasive species and improve biodiversity along the canals. On any of these days you could be painting, tree-planting, hedge-laying, surveying wildlife, protecting the banks or repairing a hundred-plus-year-old lock. The Canal Crew Berkshire tackle projects along the Kennet and Avon Canal between Reading and Newbury.
>> Join a Green Gym: Find new meaning in ‘working out’! Green Gym goers across the country stay fit and healthy by taking on practical conservation projects in their local areas. Find your nearest Green Gym here. This month, Newbury and Thatcham Green Gym will be working out on Monday 2nd September from 10am-12.30pm at Rushall Manor Farm and on Monday 9th September, 10am-12.30pm again, at Snelsmore Common.
New friends, new purpose or even a new career... who knows what you might discover?