Spring and Summer are wonderful seasons in Minnesota – trees and shrubs become leafy and vibrant, flowers bloom and scatter their sweet smells, the sun stays out longer and longer, and birds dramatically increase their singing.
From March through June there are a variety of bird species returning to and passing through Minnesota.
While over 400 bird species have been observed in Minnesota, about 330 to 340 bird species are expected to be observable in MN in any given year. Adopting a nature-based hobby, such as birdwatching (also called birding), can help foster a sense of mastery, skill development, and ongoing wonder at the beauty of the natural world. This sense of mastery can provide a significant mental health boost.
Even if you aren’t a birder, birds might still provide a significant mental health benefit. Several research studies (see articles linked below) indicate that the presence of birds in our lives are associated with an improved quality of life and emotional wellbeing.
Why might this be?
Well, bird flight and birdsong might simply be aesthetically pleasing. However, there may be another explanation. Birds are some of the most visible and audible parts of an ecosystem, and tend to be indicators of overall biodiversity, meaning that if there is a wide variety of bird species in an area, there generally will be a wide variety of other living things as well.
This could include insects, fungi, plants, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Humans may be evolutionarily primed to prefer such resource-rich environments, with ready access to food, water, and materials to build shelter.
To harness the calming power of nature, which as a human you might be naturally inclined to enjoy, try mindfully spending some time in a natural environment!
Mental Wellbeing Activity – Mindful Nature Walk
Find a natural area that you have access to – a park, a path, a stream, a lake. It could be any place where there are fewer humanmade sounds and sights. Make sure to put your mobile device(s) on silent.
Take time to be silent and still out in nature.
What do you see around you?
What do you hear?
What do you smell?
What physical sensations are going on for you?
What thoughts do you have about yourself in this environment?
What emotions do you feel come over you as you move through the landscape?
How many different types of birds and other animals did you notice?
When you return home, or otherwise are finished with your nature walk, what thoughts and feelings can you bring with you back into the rest of your day?
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