When we put down our phones and connect with nature, it’s not just good for the planet #COP26

the carbon cost of our digitla habits

04 Nov When we put down our phones and connect with nature, it’s not just good for the planet #COP26

  1. How your Digital Detox Could Save the Planet #COP26
  2. When we put down our phones and connect with nature, it’s not just good for the planet #COP26
  3. The carbon cost of our digital habits #COP26

There are many good reasons why you might want to look up from your phone from time to time but, with the 26th annual UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) taking place right now, one of the things you might want to consider is how your phone habits are disconnecting you from nature and the natural world around you.

Why should we connect with nature?

There are a few reasons why we should be worried that we connect with nature less than we used to, and they aren’t all about the planet:

  • Studies show people with a greater connection to nature are more likely to behave positively towards the environment, wildlife and habitat
  • Developing an enduring relationship between people and nature is critical for future nature conservation and the health of our planet.
  • And, there’s lots of evidence of a positive relationship between a person’s connection to nature and their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

How long are we spending with our heads in our phones?

The amount of time we’re absorbed in a screen has risen dramatically in the last five years alone.

The average person checks their phone 262 times a day, a major increase from the 80 times a day average in 2016

The Guardian, November 2021

At its most basic, we’re simply not noticing what’s going on around us in the natural world, or experiencing its benefits for our health, when we spend so much time with our heads in our phones immersing ourselves in the digital, rather than the physical, world.

What benefits do we experience when we connect with nature?

A growing body of research from all across the globe has found that contact with nature in environments such as parks, woodlands and beaches is associated with better health and well-being. This doesn’t mean you need to live in the countryside, living in ‘greener’ urban areas (where you have access to a park or grassy space, or even trees in your street), is also associated with lower cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, mental health, and ultimately mortality.

connect with nature

One famous study even looked at the impact of just being able to see a green space, rather than walk in it. People recovering from operations in a hospital with a view of green space recovered sooner and required fewer painkillers than those who didn’t have a ‘green’ view.

In Japan, ‘shinrin yoku’ the habit of forest bathing (spending time among trees, observing the sights and sounds of nature), is particularly popular. Researchers have found that doing it can lower stress hormone production and blood pressure while boosting the body’s immune system.

What about the benefits to the natural world when we connect with it?

Studies have shown that engaging in simple nature activities is the largest significant contributor to ‘pro-nature’ conservation behaviour. In other words, when we spend more time outside in the natural world we are more likely to want to protect and preserve it because we notice and appreciate its benefits.

An understanding of the natural world is a source of not only great curiosity, but great fulfilment.”

Sir David Attenborough

Put your phone down to connect with nature more

Ultimately it’s a win:win when you put down your phone and notice and experience the natural world around you. It benefits your physical and mental health, and it benefits the natural word because, as you experience and enjoy it more, you’re more motivated to want to protect it. It’s been a part of our manifesto ever since we launched Time To Log Off, that spending time in nature is the best antidote to mindless screen scrolling. With the UN Climate Change Conference happening right now, there’s no better time to gently remind you to get off your screen and connect with nature today.

`My Brain Has Too Many Tabs Open' Tanya Goodin

For more ideas on how to fix your digital habits to improve your health and wellbeing, pick up a copy of my new book: ‘My Brain Has Too Many Tabs Open’.

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