There are times when it’s hard to get the energy and motivation to get outside, even when the sun is shining.
A dose of fresh air can really do wonders. It can help us feel calm, refreshed and relaxed. Even on a rainy spring day, putting on wellies and a raincoat and walking in puddles can remind us of the joy in the simplest of activities.
It is a good idea to make a habit of getting outside a few times a week. This doesn’t need to be a huge event each time. You could try:
Be kind to yourself as you make time for nature. Know that however long you spend outside, from a few minutes to several hours, can have wellbeing benefits.
It can be easy to forget our sense of smell, unless we come across a strongly pleasant or unpleasant scent. Spend some time giving the air outside a good sniff and you may be surprised what comes to you.
If you have a sensitive nose, you may already think that spring has a distinctive scent. For some, there’s a beautiful smell in the air that combines soil with the aftereffects of rain.
There is even a special word for the pleasant earthy smell you get when rain hits dry soil: petrichor. This scent has been studied by scientists, who found it is a combination of fragrant chemical compounds.
In spring, lawns start growing at pace. Along with the thrum of the lawnmower, we can sometimes detect the scent of recently cut grass. You may be amazed to discover grass produces this smell as an ‘attack warning.’ It lets other plants know there is danger nearby. So, that lovely smell is also nature being extremely clever!
In our gardens and on walks, we may pick up the scent of spring flowers. In early spring, shrubs like viburnum and daphne offer sweet fragrance. Later in the season roses, lavender, wisteria, honeysuckle and sweet peas may all delight our sense of smell.
Spring is such a treat for our sense of sight. It is an optimistic season. Everywhere we look, nature is waking up and putting on growth.
We can spot different flowers blooming as spring rolls on. At first, we can see daffodils and tulips, then later bluebells in woodlands. By the end of spring as the weather warms we may spot roses, cornflowers, aquilegia, alliums, poppies, clematis, sweet peas, lilac, magnolia and so much more.
Trees are wonderful to watch in spring. It can seem they get greener by the day, with some trees also producing beautiful blossom in shades of white or pink.
You may find yourself wondering “what’s that lovely plant” as you spot them growing. If you have a smartphone, you could try an app that helps identify plants, like Plantsnap or Google Lens. Or, you could take a photo and use it as a conversation starting point.
If you are near countryside or farmland, your heart may be gladdened by the sight of baby animals, such as lambs. In our gardens, we may be lucky enough to have young birds, like juvenile blackbirds, appear in late spring.
The sky can start to look different in spring. There are usually plenty of clouds and showers early in the season. But, as we head into May, brighter blue days emerge as we enjoy ever more hours of sunlight.
Tune in to the sounds of spring around. If it helps, pause and close your eyes for a minute.
The return of birdsong is one of the most well known sounds of spring. You might hear the two-note call of a great tit. Some people think it sounds like a rusty bicycle! Or, listen for the pretty trill of a robin and the distinct coo-ing sound of a wood pigeon.
If you would like to brush up on your birdsong, you could visit the British birdsongs website. The song thrush is an amazing example of the vocal skills of some birds!
It's not only birds filling the air with sound. Many pollinators make an appearance in spring, especially on a sunny day. Often you can hear the buzz of a bee before you see it, as it zips through the air looking for nectar.
Our fellow humans also seem to come out of hibernation in spring. The sound of children playing and adults chatting outside can be a joy to hear.
Spring is a changeable season, with as many wet and windy days as calm, sunny ones. For some, the sound of the wind whistling through the trees and rain splashing on the ground is one to enjoy – even if it makes time outside a little shorter!
We can enjoy the feel of spring on our skin.
Blooming flowers have soft, tactile petals – like blossom, tulips and soft green leaves. Gently feel them, taking great care not to damage the new growth.
If you are gardening, you may enjoy the feel of the soil on your fingers as you sow seeds or place plants.
The air around also has a touch sensation. On a cold day, the wind may whip gently against our cheeks. But on a sunny day, there is the enjoyment of warmth. This activates another sense – thermoception. This sense is related to how we feel temperature, both hot and cold.
If you grow your own food, spring is not the most bountiful season, but you may have some plants ready to harvest. You may be able to enjoy eating fresh radishes, strawberries, kale, spinach and peas in spring.
Another unusual type of taste is the air around. Take some gentle deep breaths outside. Notice how that feels in your body – is there any sort of flavour in the air you could describe?
Spring is such a delight for the senses. If you have enjoyed time in nature, you could always use it to inspire creative activities. That could be a nature poem, a drawing, or simply sharing what you’ve seen with others.