Nature is restorative: Attention restoration theory

Ever walk around a city and feel distracted by the background traffic noise and the billboard advertisements firing messages at you, whilst trying to organise the thoughts in your head so that you can remember what it was you were going to the shop for? Unsurprisingly, in urban environments we can experience mental fatigue. Scientists say this is because we have to exert effort to overcome the effects of constant stimulation.

Birdsong during lockdown

Researchers have recently found that birdsong can transform our mental health. It’s all about the type of song we listen to and partly to do with our associations with the sounds. It won’t surprise you that melodic and pleasant sounds scored highly in the study whilst squawks and rough sounds were less well received. Think blackbird vs magpie. The melodic sounds were found to be restorative and relaxing.

Coping with eco-anxiety

If you’ve been feeling unsettled about environmental issues of late there are some practical tips that can help. Friends of the Earth nailed how anxious we can get in their ‘We’ve all been there’ video, watch until the end for a smile. We don’t have to downplay the enormity of the environmental crisis to find ways to cope and actually, acknowledging the situation and that our anxiety is a rational response can reassure us that we are not the problem, lasting systemic change is what is needed. Eco-anxiety is a term used to describe the anxieties that we may have about climate change or other ecological damage. It’s important to remember that eco-anxiety is a rational response to a disturbing state of affairs. As Sarah Niblock of the UK Council for Psychotherapy says: “Eco-anxiety is a term that’s used a lot, but it’s misguided if it’s not used in the right way,”… “This is not an illness or disorder, it’s a perfectly normal and healthy reaction.”. So we know we’re human and rational to feel this way, but how can we avoid feeling overwhelmed without minimising the state of our ecology?