Five ways to engage with nature this spring for mental and physical wellbeing

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Enhancing Australians’ health and happiness through reconnection with nature  

Following the successful launch of the Nature Blocks™ initiative, Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) is encouraging all Australians to engage with nature this spring. As the leading practical environmental group in the nation, CVA has identified five simple, yet impactful, ways for individuals to connect with the natural world to promote both mental and physical health.

Phil Harrison, chief executive officer, CVA, said, “Spring is the perfect season to rekindle your relationship with nature. Whether it’s in your backyard or a national park, engaging with the natural environment can have profound health benefits. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s essential to find balance, and nature provides a readily accessible solution.”

Here are CVA’s top five ways to engage with nature this spring:  

1. Plant a nature pot or garden  

Whether you have a sprawling backyard or just a windowsill, planting native species can bring a slice of nature into your life. Gardening has been scientifically proven to reduce stress hormones, and planting native species also supports local biodiversity. A small pot of native flowers can attract pollinators, promote local ecosystems, and serve as your personal oasis of calm.

2. Birdwatch from your window  

This passive activity is more than just a pleasant pastime. Birdwatching has been shown to improve mental health by promoting mindfulness, a form of directed attention that has therapeutic effects. Take five minutes out of your busy day to focus on the sights and sounds of local birdlife. You’ll likely notice an improvement in your attention span and cognitive skills.

3. Go for a local nature walk  

Explore local parks, walking trails, or even just a leafy street in your neighbourhood. Numerous studies have shown that walking in green spaces can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can also lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Nature walks provide a dual benefit: the physical gain from exercise and the mental relief from scenic beauty and tranquillity.

4. Contribute to community gardens  

If you don’t have space for a garden at home, community gardens are an excellent alternative. Participating in community gardening projects is all about growing a sense of community and belonging. This is crucial for mental health, as a strong social support network can be a protective factor against stress and depression.

5. Enjoy a virtual nature experience

Sometimes it’s difficult to get outdoors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t engage with nature. Watching nature documentaries, or even looking at photos of natural landscapes, can have mental health benefits. Visual and emotional engagement with nature can stimulate feelings of awe and wonder, which are linked to lower levels of stress hormones and improved mental wellbeing.

Phil Harrison said, “The benefits of engaging with nature are backed by a growing body of scientific evidence. Regular contact with nature has been shown to increase feelings of calmness, boost endorphin levels, and enhance concentration. It can also mitigate symptoms of anxiety and depression while fostering a sense of community.”

CVA’s Nature Blocks™ program already provides numerous resources for those looking to create their own natural sanctuaries, ranging from pollinator gardens to frog bogs. Individuals can visit the CVA website or download the new CVA app for explanatory videos and resources tailored to various levels of experience.

Phil Harrison said, “Connecting with nature is a journey that can provide better mental and physical health for individuals, and a more sustainable future for our planet. Every plant counts and every step counts.”

To find out more, visit or download the new CVA app.

About Conservation Volunteers Australia’s Nature Blocks™ initiative

Nature Blocks™ is a national campaign is designed to encourage every Australian to assist in rejuvenating and restoring Australia’s unique biodiversity by connecting with nature. It involves participants building a native garden of any size in their backyard, on their balcony, in their office, or in their local environment to provide a source of food and shelter for native species.

Nature Blocks create micro-habitats and collectively contribute to the habitat available for native wildlife in our major cities and towns. Research has found that almost half (46 per cent) of Australia’s nationally listed threatened animals can be found in urban areas and these environments are the last remaining places that 39 threatened species exist. (1) By creating Nature Blocks, each person can take a positive step to support Australia’s biodiversity and help our communities to be healthier places for us all to live. Individuals can also enjoy the physical and mental health benefits that come from spending time in the environment.

Participants can visit the CVA website, or download the new CVA app, to access explanatory videos and resources on how to build a Nature Block to suit their location, space, and level of experience. Participants can also join the online CVA community to share their stories of success and encourage others to get involved. In addition to the fun and vibrant digital campaign, the Nature Blocks initiative will include on-the-ground events and celebrations, creating a platform for interaction, collaboration, and conservation.

The goal of Nature Blocks is to build a community of more than one million like-minded people by 2026, who will all take simple yet powerful actions to build back Australia’s biodiversity, one block at a time. By making conservation accessible, fun, and fulfilling for all, Nature Blocks is designed to help preserve biodiversity and promote healthy, resilient living environments which are more able to withstand the effects of a changing climate.

Everyone has a role to play in protecting and restoring the natural environment. By taking action together as a community, CVA is certain that a significant impact can be made. As little as one square metre can make a difference, and CVA is passionate about creating a world in which people and nature thrive, together.

Reference: (1) Soanes and Lentini, When cities are the last chance for saving species, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environmental, 1 April 2019 


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