We’re all in unfamiliar waters as the COVID-19 pandemic triggers a profound sense of uncertainty for our lives, our businesses and our finances.

These unusual, and often anxious, times bring unforeseen varying difficulties, so we’ve decided to share how we’re rising to the challenge while navigating the turbulent waters of the pandemic along with the unexpected joys we’ve found that lockdown is offering.

Sharon: Being at home every day is highlighting the diversity within my outdoor spaces, mainly my small yard/garden (Yarden) at the rear of my house which, although only 8m x 8m in size is crammed full of plants in pots. The pear, apple and plum trees in particular are providing a great source of nectar for the bees whilst the birds seem to like feeding from the mature trees and the various shrubs in pots. I spend a lot of my free time sitting in my Arbour watching the birds using the nearby trees as a safe haven, a feeding spot, and a play and nesting area; to date I’ve counted up to 23 species of birds including Dunnock, Tree and House Sparrows, Goldfinches, Great Tits, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Starlings, a few Buzzards and Kestrels flying by and a Curlew in the farm fields adjacent to the house. Being outside at home more often certainly has its benefits and I’m noticing a lot more than I ever would under normal conditions.  

Being at home is also providing some great opportunities to undertake some exciting #lockdownlearning and I’ve learned so much to date from the various Webinars and  Livestream training sessions including recent talks and presentations on Eurasian Beavers, Rewilding, Bird IDs, City Nature Challenge and, not to forget, the daily nature updates from Chris Packham’s Self Isolating Bird Club, which is almost like a mini Springwatch in itself. I’m also using this quieter time to enrol onto online web-based training courses including a recent sign up to an Ecology: Ecosystem Dynamics and Conservation short course, a good chance to further my knowledge whilst in lockdown. 

Being mindful of everything happening around me is very important as is making the very best use of the time I can during lockdown; even more important though is to ensure that this newly found mindfulness can continue and become a ‘new normal’. 

Jen: Lockdown is highlighting just how important nature is to me. Now life as we know it has largely been put on pause, nature hasn’t and it’s even showing signs of benefiting from our absence. I often finish the working day feeling stressed and anxious and I’ve found that now, more than ever, getting outdoors really calms me down. The constant movement of nature as the grass keeps growing and flowers continue to bloom offers assurance in these uncertain times and reminds me to be present and appreciate what’s happening right now, instead of panicking about the future.

I’m also noticing the bird song more now; I think, previously, it’s been muted due to traffic noise and the dawn chorus goes on way past dawn and it’s lovely.

Mindset is everything and I’m concentrating on what I can control. I mentioned previously that I’ve started to focus on pro-actively finding positive stories. This article cheered me. ‘Nature is still there’: UK diary project heralds spring during lockdown as scores of amateur writers describe the arrival of new season in fields and gardens.

Julie: Yesterday I took part in my first virtual conference, aptly titled ‘Can digital agencies save the planet?’ I thought the experience would be very ‘dry’ without the physical contact and being in the same space. I was surprised to find that once the guest speakers started their presentations and talked about their ideas and current projects, the time passed really quickly. There was interaction through typed questions and lots of information shared. We all debated whether this was in fact the future. Did we reduce our carbon footprint? I learned that to do so you must have had to travel more than five miles, so a big tick for me! The attendees agreed that physical events are still needed; in particular, all-day events wouldn’t work in a virtual setting. Or would they? It certainly provided food for thought. Talking of which, it allowed me to listen, learn, share information and to do the dishes and prepare a meal at the same time!

One of the comments that really got me thinking, and maybe it might make you think, is: did you know that in 1992, 21,000 scientists signed a letter to various governing bodies warning them of climate breakdown? It was of course ignored by many governments. 28 years ago! If only…

The emotional distress resulting from the rapid spread of COVID-19, as well as the escalating climate crisis, may seem too overwhelming to bear. Now, more than ever, we must remember that connecting with nature can unlock a healthier mind, help us build our strength and carry on.

We wish everyone well and to stay safe.