Research tell us that spending time outdoors can help support good mental health and wellbeing and, as the days get longer and warmer, spring could offer you the lift you may need.

CanalAbility adapted canal boat Red Watch

With spring hiding just around the corner, there’s much more opportunity to get out and about with many of us gearing up to find accessible and inclusive things to do outside. Now is the perfect time to shake off the winter and plan something to look forward to, or try something new, so you can start to enjoy the brighter season ahead. 

Spending time in nature can benefit health and well-being

Connecting with nature is not only enjoyable, it can also have positive benefits to our mental health.

According to a study by MIND, the mental health charity, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed and anxious to more calm and balanced. 

The WWF and the Mental Health Foundation have produced a fantastic resource -Thriving with Nature – a guide for making the most of the UK’s natural spaces for our mental health and wellbeing.

Download the Thriving with Nature guide here 

‘Blue spaces’ – canals, rivers and coastal waters – have a ‘psychologically restorative’ effect

In a recent article from the Canal and River Trust, GP and best-selling author Dr Amir Khan explains how our waterways can provide mental and physical benefits.

“….studies have shown that bodies of water can be even more beneficial than green spaces when it comes to wellbeing, with lakes, rivers, and canals providing a restorative effect for the mind, and even a well-designed fountain bringing some extra positive energy.” Read the article here.

There’s so much to see along the waterways around Essex and Hertfordshire, from the river banks to the many nature reserves and sites of special scientific interest. And, as we begin to soak up the warmer weather, the flowers start to bloom and the air is filled with birdsong.   

Kingfisher at Rye Meads Nature Reserve

With a number of nature reserves and sites of special scientific interest to discover along the waterways, this is the perfect time to get outside in nature. For wildlife spotters, look out for water voles who start to breed in spring, or the brightly coloured kingfisher as it dives towards the water to collect fish, as well as damselflies and dragonflies skipping and darting over the river. 

Visit the Essex Wildlife Trust for more details.

All kinds of flora and fauna start to bloom in this season, from carpets of bluebells in wooded areas, to marsh marigolds in some of the wetter places, and you can often find ragged robin and the delicate, pale pink flowers of the Cuckooflower, also commonly known as ‘Lady’s-smock’. Marsh orchids occur in several places together with yellow iris, meadow sweet and hemp agrimony. See our Sights and Attractions blogs to find out more. 

This season is often quieter on the waterways so you can take in the sights, sounds and smells of spring along the river.  

Why not plan a day out with friends or family and immerse yourself in nature. You’ll feel refreshed, renewed and energised as the new season begins.  

Spring into Volunteering  

Spring is all about getting a fresh start and it could be the perfect time to try something new and do something a little out of your comfort zone – volunteering! 

CanalAbility volunteers taking part in training

It’s a great way to give something back to your community, and volunteering can do YOU the world of good too! Did you know that volunteering has a host of benefits including improved health and wellbeing and doing something kind for someone can be really beneficial to your mood and mental health as your brain releases endorphin’s as well as serotonin, also known as the ‘happy hormone’. 

Why not volunteer your time and skills to a local charity like CanalAbility?  See our Volunteering page for information. 

If the waterways are something you would like to explore from the comfort of an adapted canal boat, why not get together with a community group or your own friends and family – contact us on 01279 424444  email   to find out more.