The Benefits of Bird Watching for Mental Health and Well-Being

By Guest Blogger Fatbirder

There can be no doubt that Bird watching can reduce stress and anxiety. Mindfulness to reduce stress is very much like a birdwatching session where you leave your troubles behind and lose yourself in the tranquillity of nature. In other words it can be a meditative experience.

Gardeners and anglers report very much the same feelings… stress is left in the office or workroom when you drift into the arms of mother nature. Of course you think about the activity you undertake and that concentration also pushes away the stresses of everyday life. You disconnect from the negative and relish the positive experience of being in natural surroundings focussing on your chosen representatives of nature. Birds seem to be transcendent. Maybe it’s their seeming freedom as they fly through the air. Maybe it is their sheer beauty; who could not be moved by the enchanting mass movements of starlings in their sky ballet before roosting. The kingfisher’s colour and the swan’s grace all heighten our sense of beauty and no doubt trigger the release of endorphins.

If nothing else birding provides a break from our apparent addiction to technology and habit of looking at some sort of  screen all day long. We rest our eyes and slow up our thoughts and with it lower our blood pressure! So birdwatching definitely boosts your mood and overall sense of well-being. It provides an encompassing aura of calmness and relaxation. It promotes mindfulness and being in the moment. Anything which you love allows you to experience the present not dwell in the past or speculate on the future. One’s spirit soars with the swallows and swifts and dances to the tune of a blackbird’s song. Binders cannot help but appreciate the beauty of nature.

Birding can be a solo activity allowing you to concentrate on healing yourself. But you can connect with other bird watchers too. The convivial company of like-minded people is another way to relax. Birders cross every divide from politics and religion to gender orientation and race, we just don’t care about differences, we just share the love of birds and the pursuit of tranquil nature.

Birdwatching encourages physical activity and being outdoors – we combine exercise with meditation healing mind, body and spirit while fostering a sense of curiosity and of wonder.

It expands us too, as we learn new things about different bird species, their behaviour and natural history. At one extreme you will be immersed in nature and careless of ambition and on the other hand you may well feel a sense of accomplishment spotting rare birds, species you’ve never seen or behaviour that is new to you.

Isaac Walton, author of the Complete Angler in 1653 wrote words to the effect that every day spent fishing was a day added to your life… the same can definitely be said of birdwatching!

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