THE warm weather, combined with all the wonderful sights of spring, makes May a fantastic time to get outside and with last week being Mental Health Awareness Week there is no better time to take yourself outside and enjoy nature.

The Mental Health Foundation estimates that at least one in six of us will have experienced one of the common mental health problems in the last week; that is a scary statistic. Evidence in a Natural England report showed there is a positive relationship between exposure to natural environments and improvements in mental health; for this reason, connecting to nature, and taking some time out is more important than ever. However, knowing what to do can be daunting, especially if you’re not able to leave your house or meet people.

Although there are many wonderful places you can explore, you do not need to go far to experience nature. Try any of the following to connect with the outdoors:

1. Look up from your screen and out of the window - having a view of nature is a good start when it comes to feeling these benefits. Take a moment to notice the clouds moving overhead, the wind moving the trees or even count the daisies you can see.

2. Paint a nature scene on your wall or hang a photograph of nature to look at and enjoy - images of nature can offer many of the same benefits as experiencing nature first-hand.

3. Grow something (indoors or outdoors) - you do not need a garden to grow, planting up a simple pot with herbs or flowers that you can sit on your window sill works just as well. Tending to plants, even if you do not get your heart rate up with rigorous weeding or digging, is good for our health.

4. Stop and notice nature wherever you are - count the flowers you find as you walk or put your smartphone to good use and record what you see. Taking time to notice nature focusses your attention and boosts your mood.

5. Learn something new about nature - there is evidence to suggest that continued learning throughout our lifetimes helps with self-esteem and that setting challenging but achievable goals is associated with higher levels of wellbeing.

Nature Notes - Supporting a national beaver strategy

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust would love to see beavers playing their part in creating a wilder future for our two counties and we are actively looking into the possibility of introducing them to the Eastern Yar, at our Newchurch Moors nature reserve. But we need Government to back beavers and we are calling for a beaver strategy, as a part of a greener recovery plan for England.

Beavers, and the landscapes they generate, can benefit both people and wildlife. We want the future for these amazing, native creatures and their next generations to be made as safe as possible.

The Government needs to know that you care about this too. Please back our call for a beaver strategy for England -

Nature at home – Create a log pile for wildlife in your garden

Putting together a log pile will create a village for all things creepy and crawly. In turn, this busy community will attract birds, hedgehogs and frogs looking to snack on a tasty morsel.

You can get logs from tree surgeons or firewood dealers. If you’re lucky, some pieces may already contain beetle grubs which could hatch and populate your garden. Native wood is best, but anything will do.

You can build up the logs to form your ‘minibeast village’ in a variety of ways:

• Scatter your logs in a flower border or under a hedge to provide shelter for wildlife. This can also help keep plants separated and mulch the soil.

• Tidy stacks are often seen in coppiced woodlands where logs are carefully piled on top of each other, often forming a pyramid.

• The higgledy piggledy ‘natural’ way is great for architectural impact. But it doesn’t create as much shade.

• Sunken wood, like organ pipes, creates the most micro-climate possibilities for insects.

• If you can get a real ‘wagon wheel’ log, it will create the most stable environment of all underneath, which can be great for amphibian hibernation.