Take a walk in the park

These days, while we settle back into routines of lockdown and the restrictions that go with it, it’s all too easy to allow the molehills to turn into mountains.

There’s a great deal of evidence that connecting with nature improves our mental health – a plus to taking care of our physical fitness with exercise outdoors. 

NatureScot – Scotland’s nature agency – advocates the health benefits of green exercise – while Dundee City Council and Dundee Outdoors list numerous walks in and around the city if you’re looking for inspiration. My favourite spots are Magdalen Yard Green, Riverside Walk and Balgay Park.

It’s always a joy to work in a garden. That feeling of connectivity and sense of purpose is a huge part of why I originally volunteered at the Ninewells Community Garden. However, while I am not actively participating at the moment, just being outside chases away the blues and leaves me feeling relaxed and at peace with myself.

I don’t have a garden, so everyday I try to take myself out for a walk – even if it’s just around the block – although I prefer to go a little further afield.

A walk keeps me focused (even if it’s only avoiding falling over on the wintery street – sensible shoes or boots a must!) and soon I’m thinking of what’s going on around me rather than dwelling on minor problems. It’s a time to look outward, and forget everything else – to just enjoy the here and now.

I make sure I look up – at tree branches, cloud patterns, the position of the sun; to look down – at leaf litter, the frost on grass, ice on puddles, the patterns on drain covers. If I’ve climbed up high, I can look beyond to the outline of the Fife hills over the Tay.

We are blessed with many green spaces in Dundee, so not having a garden is really not a problem for me. Knowing that I am only a few minutes away from a green space, where I can breathe in the fresh winter air, watch the birds – any will do, be they crows and seagulls, pigeons, starlings or the occasional glimpse of a wren, a blackbird, a friendly robin – cheers my heart.

Crisp frost underfoot, on paths, leaves and mud keep me connected to the earth.

It ‘s a delight to feel the sunshine on my head, and to look out at the clear sky. Even venturing out on a dreich, windy day has a great effect on my spirits. There’s something true in that old saying about blowing away the cobwebs.

Being outside creates a feeling of connection, reduces stress, anxiety, anger. I find wandering in nature gives me a greater sense of perspective, increases my energy, and leaves me feeling refreshed.

photos: Marjie Spence

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