🌼 20 Wild-hearted Spring ideas
🌿 Connect with nature, creativity, and friends
Today I’m writing to you about ways you can connect with the joys of spring… but first! A milestone!
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The Happiness Letter is my light-hearted exploration into what might make you – and me – a little happier. I research the art and science of happiness, then deliver it to your inbox once a week. It’s your weekly reminder to prioritise your wellbeing – because sometimes we all need a little reminder. And a little encouragement.
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20 Ways to connect with nature, creativity, and friends this Spring
1. “Just be”
Before I launch into a list of lovely things you can do this spring, a quick reminder that you can also… do nothing. Via Tricia Hersey’s Nap Ministry:
“You don’t have to be healing every day. You don’t have to be checking off goals every day on a to-do list. You don't have to be hustling and ‘building’ every day. You don’t have to push every day. You have the right to just be. You were born to experience leisure, joy, and rest.”
2. Cultivate wellbeing through gardening
Gardening every day has been shown to improve wellbeing, and the UK's National Health Service has been prescribing gardening as a health intervention since 2019.
“With plants, it’s a two-way nurturing process. You’re nurturing them and they’re nurturing you back,” says Rosie Atkins, vice-president of the Royal Horticultural Society. (Don't you love that the vice-president of the RHS is named Rosie? Guess what the president is named? Keith Weed! I love a bit of nominative determinism.)
3. Sketch a landscape
Gather some friends and some art materials in a scenic location and channel your inner Landscape Artists of the Year.
Many of us haven’t dabbled in art since school, having been discouraged when our artistic efforts received neither high grades nor high praise. But creative expression is increasingly recommended as a wellness practice. Regardless of your artistic ability, expressing yourself creatively reduces stress and helps you cope with difficult emotions.
Art Therapy focuses on the therapeutic benefit of the art-making process, not the final product. So enjoy the process and don’t worry about the outcome! And remember – being kind of bad at something is the first step towards being kind of good at something.
4. Go on a full moon hike
April’s full moon provides one of the best opportunities of the year to set out on a wondrous moonlit adventure. The full moon will rise on Saturday, 16 April between around 8.00pm - 1.00am (this will vary depending on your time zone.)
The moon won't rise as early in the evening again until September. And a full moon won’t occur on a weekend again until August.
5. Create a tiny meadow
Biodiversity experts are urging people to help pollinators by not planting wildflower seed. Instead, reduce mowing lawns and verges to support biodiversity:
“Allow our beautiful natural meadows to return with native flowers that are meant to be there. It won’t look like the front of a wildflower seed packet, but that’s not a natural habitat and is not what pollinators want.
Let’s change our expectations and create thousands of natural mini meadows that genuinely help biodiversity, not artificial ones that are attractive to humans!”
6. Forage wild garlic and make pesto
Wild garlic grows abundantly in woodlands in springtime and can be easily identified by its garlicky smell. One of the most popular uses for wild garlic is quick, tasty pesto. This is the wild garlic pesto recipe used by my local pizza place, and I can attest to its deliciousness:
Makes 200ml. In a blender, blitz together:
2-3 garlic cloves
50g wild garlic greens
150ml olive oil
7. Watch out for seasonal arrivals in the skies
Spring is in the air, and so are migratory birds! Swallows, cuckoos, puffins, and more will arrive in increasing numbers over the next few weeks. Species will vary depending on your location – your local birdwatching association will have info about which birds you should look out for.
8. Read in the wild
Relaxing outside on a sunny day with a good book is one of life’s simple pleasures. I recently bought new prescription reading sunglasses in anticipation of such delight this spring. I can’t wait to pack up a book and picnic blanket and seek out a tranquil spot to read in a local park.
9. Spot some spring lambs
“Spotting the first lambs of spring is a joyful thrill,” wrote Elspeth Thompson in The Wonderful Weekend Book. “All you have to do is look at the right time and in the right place.”
10. Volunteer in your community
Social connection and time in nature have both been shown to improve our wellbeing. So why not enjoy the benefits of both and spread some kindness in your community by getting involved in local projects like gardening or litter-picking.
11. Hunt for fossils
Spring is a great time to go fossil hunting, as winter's stormy weather and rough seas will have broken down rocks and uncovered new specimens.
You can find fossils in sedimentary rock (sandstone, limestone, shale) on beaches and around streams and rivers.
An online search should tell you where to look for fossils in your area, or if there are any fossil-hunting outings you can join.
12. Buy someone a bunch of daffodils
Daffodils are an ideal cheap and cheerful springtime pick-me-up. If you’re in Ireland like me, you can buy a bumper bouquet of daffodils in Aldi this week to support the Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day.
13. Listen to the dawn chorus
The dawn chorus takes place in spring and early summer, and is “one of the most magical experiences in nature,” according to Birdwatch Ireland: “A multitude of birds of many different species, all singing together in harmony as morning breaks and light begins to fill the skies.”
14. Install a swift nesting box
Like many wild species, swifts are increasingly threatened through loss of nest sites and have suffered a huge population decline in the past decade. Buy or make a nest box and place it under eaves in April.
15. Create a flower wreath
Take your pick of online wreath-making tutorials – I like this step-by-step guide using natural willow and garden flowers.
16. Create botanic art using cyanotype
Cyanotype is a simple printing process invented in the 1800s. You can create your own cyanotype art using UV-reactive solution, some leaves or flowers, and sunlight. Buy a cyanotype kit here.
17. Re-energise your wardrobe
Now is the time to go through your wardrobe and store your winter woolies, says Hannah Bullivant, home stylist and decluttering expert:
“Air summer clothes outside before hanging in your wardrobe. Donate or discard anything which you no longer like, or is beyond repair. Donate anything which you feel a bit ‘meh’ about; you probably won't reach for it anyway, and a simple wardrobe of stuff that you love is surprisingly energising.”
18. Listen deeply
“The next time you’re having a conversation with someone, just listen,” recommends Rohan Gunatillake of Mindfulness Everywhere: “Too often, a so-called conversation is actually two monologues, with each person just waiting for the other to finish. There are few things as generous as listening deeply to a friend.”
19. Make gorse flower cordial
Did you know that those yellow flowers dotting the countryside can be used to make a sweet cordial? It’s best to forage gorse flowers in springtime when their coconutty flavour is strongest. I’ve used this recipe for gorse flower cordial before, and it was glorious.
20. And lastly, to quote a poem by Edith Nesbit,
“Go and kiss your lady; Spring is here again!”