10 great ideas for spring
As spring's offically here and the weather warms up, now's the time to enjoy all the benefits that getting outside and into nature brings.
We've come up with ten ideas to inspire you:
1 Relax in your local park
You’re never far from a park that’ll be bursting into life this spring.
- Simply sitting on a bench and soaking up the springtime colour and scents can be a great way to relax and get some breathing space.
- When you’re feeling low, a gentle stroll can be just enough to pick you up.
- If you’re feeling more energetic, why not arrange to meet some friends and make use of any sport facilities. These are usually free!
- Bring the children too. Kicking a ball together or playing on the swings can improve your sense of wellbeing and is an easy way to strengthen connections with your family.
Did you know: Many parks have a ‘friends of the park’ group. Getting involved can be a great way of looking after your local park and meeting new friends.
2 Discover a bluebell wood
It’s estimated that half of all the world’s common bluebells can be found in the UK and woodlands are their natural habitat.
- April and early May is the best time of year to see the beautiful transformation that bluebells make to many of our woodlands.
- Woods are often away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life so can provide a perfect space to relax and unwind.
- Most woods have marked trails and footpaths; perfect for that lazy afternoon stroll through acres of dainty bluebells.
- Find out where to see them with Visit Woods who host one of the largest directories of bluebell woodlands. Use their online search tool to find one near you.
3 Join a walking group
If you have good mobility, walking groups can be a fantastic way to boost your energy levels, improve self-esteem and meet new friends.
- There are groups across the country who meet for short walks every week. You don’t have to go into the countryside – even in cities you’ll find lots of good walks within easy reach.
- You will need some suitable footwear and clothes. And bring some food and drink even if the walk includes a café break.
- Walking for Health, now run in partnership by Ramblers and Macmillan, has groups across England offering walks that are perfect for beginners and experienced walkers alike.
- Some walking groups cater for different groups – Ramblers has groups for different ages, shorter easier walks, and even family walks.
- Find the right walk for your level and enjoy the warmer weather!
4 Go for a bike ride
Whenever you feel tense, exercise in the outdoors can make you feel better. Cycling can help to improve your confidence and independence.
- Be safe, so check your tyres and brakes work properly. Always wear a cycle helmet, check that your bell works and use lights if riding in the dark.
- Take care when riding, so be aware of other road users and pedestrians.
- If you haven’t been out on a bike for while, why not ask a friend to join you – it may give your confidence a boost.
- Plan your route. Try to avoid traffic hot spots and consider cycle-friendly routes such as canal towpaths and cycle paths.
- As you get more confident, plan some more challenging routes – or save yourself some money by cycling instead of using public transport or your car.
Top tip: The charity Sustrans has resources to help you plan your journey and get into the saddle.
5 Volunteer at an Ecominds project
Being active outdoors and making new friends at an Ecominds project can really boost your mental health. And it doesn’t have to be hard work either.
- Mind has funded 130 Ecominds projects across England – use our map to find a project near you.
- Every Ecominds project is different – from gardening to recycling or even fixing bikes – see if there’s something for you.
- Volunteering can be a great way to make new friends and connections that can help you build your confidence.
- Ecominds can help you learn a new skill or rediscover an old interest – from growing plants on an allotment, repairing a dry stone wall, or even charcoal making – you can have fun whilst learning something new!
6 Jogging can be great fun
If you want to be more active outdoors, jogging can be great way to burn calories. It’s even more fun if you can team up with a running partner.
- Make sure you warm up properly. A brisk walk should be enough to get your muscles warmed and your lungs ready for a workout. Avoid stretching cold muscles as this can cause injury.
- It doesn’t matter if you are a total beginner. Start small by walking for two minutes and then jogging for five and see how it goes.
- Ask a friend to join you. It’s a great opportunity to catch up and enjoy the outdoors together.
- As your confidence builds why not join a running group. Most are open to all abilities and you will find other beginners to. Women’s Running magazine has some useful tips for meeting others who have decided to give it a go.
7 Sow some sunflower seeds
Sunflowers are easy to grow and are sure to bring some sunshine to your garden. How tall can you grow yours?
- Sunflowers prefer a sunny open spot but will grow in most places and soils.
- You can plant seeds directly into the garden from April or, to get really tall plants, sow them earlier indoors – anytime from March onwards.
- Sow seeds outdoors about half an inch deep and about 12 inches apart is well composted soil. Seedlings should take 21 days to appear.
- If sewing indoors, plant your seeds one inch deep in a small pot and water them. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle and the risk of frost has passed you can plant them outside.
- To get really tall and strong plants gently tie stalks to a cane or stick to support them as they grow.
8 Enjoy a spring picnic
As the warm weather returns, what better excuse is there to get outside? Enjoy a picnic at a favourite place with family and friends.
- Picnics can be a great way to bring people together and are perfect for strengthening those connections with family and friends.
- Use a cool bag or an icebox. Hampers look lovely but can be heavy to carry. Cool bags will keep food at the correct temperature to help avoid any risk of food poisoning.
- The fun of a picnic is to spread all the food on the blanket and let everyone laze around, helping themselves.
- Plan for some fun too. Frisbees, kites and balls will keep guests young and old happy for hours.
- UV rays in spring can still harm skin so don’t forget your sun block and sunglasses.
9 Make a date with nature
From seal spotting to bird watching, the UK has a fantastic range of creatures to keep any nature detective busy.
- Why not join the other three million people who go bird watching in the UK each year. With some binoculars and a guide for spotting birds you shouldn’t have to travel too far.
- If you’re having trouble identifying your feathered friends the RSPB has a useful online tool to help you.
- Wildlife Trusts welcome visitors to a network of 2,300 nature reserves across the UK. You’ll be surprised at what’s on your doorstep! Find your nearest using this map and start your wildlife adventure.
- You can spot seals around many of our coasts. About half of the world's population of grey seals can be found around British coasts so there is a great chance of spotting one.
10 Take some spring nature photos
Spending time outdoors can give your mind a real boost. Why not take some photos of those colourful spring scenes that make you feel good.
- Spring brings many opportunities for the outdoor photographer. With flowers blossoming, green foliage returning and more people enjoying the outdoors, there’s lots to inspire.
- Taking pictures during the golden hour - the first and last hour of sunlight during the day - can produce some magical results, thanks to nature’s own lighting effects!
- You don’t need to be a professional photographer, and photos taken on your camera-phone are fine. We’d like to see what interests you and makes you smile when you go out - please share them on our Facebook and Twitter pages.