Size of Wales Advocacy and Outreach Officer Angie Kirby discusses how and why you should use the festive period to try and reconnect with nature and soak up the natural beauty of Wales in Winter.
In this fast-paced society we live in, it’s vital to disconnect from the constant noise and clamouring for attention from adverts, news and social media, and take time to connect to something far deeper, ancient and elemental.
So, this Christmas, ditch the technology, wrap up in your warmest, wet weather gear and go for a wild, winter walk or gaze up at the clear, night sky. Sensing the world around us can help us feel grounded in turbulent times and also reminds us that we are part of a greater whole – the Earth, which we share with many other living beings – and the wider universe, of which we are but a tiny fragment.
Recognising the interconnectedness of life on this planet can help us to cultivate our relationship with the natural world and when we learn to love nature, of which we are also a part, we are much more likely to protect it.
Indigenous Peoples have held this wisdom for millennia. For example, the Guarani People of Brazil, see their lives as intertwined and connected to the lives of all other beings in the forest. They don’t see themselves as separate from nature. They feed, protect and respect the earth, plants, animals and insects, regarding their lives as equal and never seeking to gain power over nature, nor to exploit it.
To maintain, our nhandereko – our way of life – the forests and all their beings must also be kept alive.
– (Ilson Karai Okaju, Commissao Guarani Yvyrupa)
Numerous studies show that the more contact we have with nature, whether it’s walking in a forest or simply appreciating local green spaces, the more likely we are to practise pro-environmental behaviours. The very nature of these interactions is also important in helping us to forge a deep connection with nature – one based on ecocentric values, rather than only human-focused concerns (anthropocentric).
The Nature Connectedness Research Group identified five common pathways – contact, emotion, meaning, compassion and beauty – that can help us develop “a more meaningful and emotional relationship with nature.”
As evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould once phrased so eloquently, “We will not fight to save what we do not love”. So, take time this Christmas to appreciate that sense of wonder and awe that nature inspires in us. It will do us all some good.
This article was written as part of our Trees for Christmas campaign.