Dealing with day-to-day pressures or challenges can take a toll on our mental health and wellbeing – leaving us feeling stressed out, worn down and a little low. In this blog post, we look at how simply coming into contact with birdlife as part of our day-to-day lives may help tackle this - and it costs nothing too.
Whilst a growing body of research highlights the importance of nature for good mental health, it can often be hard to find an hour (or even minutes) to spend outdoors in our increasingly busy lives. However, even when we are pushed for time, recent research suggests that simply encountering birdlife as part of our day-to-day activities may actually help boost well-being and improve our mood.
In a three-year study conducted by Kings College London, Ryan Hammoud and colleagues found that people who could either see or hear birds whilst going about their daily lives reported feeling happier, calmer and better connected to others - whilst feelings of stress or anxiety were reduced.
These benefits were apparent even if study participants weren't actually outside - which is great news if you're stuck indoors at work or home. Additionally, the benefits were seen regardless of whether participants had been diagnosed with depression or not – which has important implications for improving well-being, even if you are currently experiencing a mental health condition.
It is important to note that while the positive effects on well-being lasted well beyond the actual contact with birds in this study, they did decrease over time. However, pausing momentarily to listen to birds singing or watch them through a window costs nothing, and it may help you feel happier and more relaxed - for a little while at least.
Hammoud, R., Tognin, S.,Burgess, L.,Bergou, N., Smythe, M., Gibbons, J., Davidson, N., Affifi, A., Bakolis, I. and Mechelli, A. (2022) ‘Smartphone‑based ecological momentary assessment reveals mental health benefts of birdlife’. Scientific Reports. 12, 17589. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-20207-6.