Little Ramona, 10, is upbeat these days about taking up a new hobby that involves observing the tiny winged beauties that pay her a visit in the morning. She is no longer unhappy about discontinuing her piano classes due to Coronavirus scare due to which she has been largely confined to home these days. Bird watching no wonder is fast emerging as one of the favourite hobbies of people not only in countries like US and UK but also many cities of India. People are downloading apps that help them in bird identification and knowing more about them. Even if many of us cannot afford to go outdoors right now, this little activity of connecting with nature and observing birds can bring in a lot of mental health benefits.
What Is Bird Watching
Bird watching involves observing birds as a recreational activity. It can be done with or without binoculars or telescopes, or by even listening to the sound of the birds. In lockdowns, many people are looking for ways to connect with nature, and bird watching is also one of them. While ornithologists engage in the study of birds using formal scientific methods, bird watchers mainly pursue it as a hobby.
Bird watching is an inexpensive activity. Here’s what you need for it:
- A field book or app to aid identification
- A notebook for recording time and place of sightings
- You need not travel for bird watching. Many bird-watchers set up feeding stations to attract birds.
Benefits Of Bird Watching
Following a passion gives you a joy that releases happy hormones in the brain and when coupled with the benefits that come along by observing natural surroundings, cultivating this hobby is not a bad idea for soothing the stressed mind.
“One must take out time to do pleasurable things that bring us joy. It helps in the release of chemicals in our brain like endorphins and dopamine that relieve stress and help improve overall well bring. People who like bird watching are passionate about it and when they indulge in the activity, their reward pathways get activated and it gives them a kind of soothing effect in brain,” says Dr. Saurabh Kumar, Assistant Professor, Psychiatry, Patna Medical College & Hospital (PMCH), Patna.
Here Are The Benefits Of Bird Watching
1. Reduces Stress: Modern lifestyle brings along its own stressors with little time to relax and rejuvenate. We are either glued to our screens due to online meetings or work, or binge-watching OTT content to wind up the day. This increase in screen time is adding to the stress. Bird watching provides you an opportunity to connect with nature and releases stress. Even if you are not able to go outdoors observing birds from your balcony and getting fresh air lowers your chances of depression, makes you feel happier and improves your overall well-being. “Walking, bird watching or any other outdoor activity is recommended for maintaining good mental health,” adds Dr. Kumar.
2. Mindfulness: Bird watching is one of the best ways to stay in the present moment while observing the movements and patterns of birds. There are numerous benefits of mindfulness from reducing anxiety, rumination, stress and negative chain of thoughts. Our ancient Indian practices like Yoga and Ayurveda also lays emphasis on mindfulness as a daily practice and bird watching in that sense is regarded meditative by many.
3. Physical Exercise: Apart from the mental health benefits, in the age when we are increasingly getting physically inactive and falling prey to sedentary lifestyle, bird watching is an activity that involves physical workout too considering you have to be on the go while catching up with the little creatures.
4. Brain Exercise: You would probably no longer complain of slow reflexes if your hobby involves watching birds lest you miss some important observation. You need to be alert and have high concentration levels for this activity.
5. Change In Scenery: You cannot always go to a holiday for changing your settings. An hour of bird watching transports you to a different plane altogether where the daily worries do not matter. That kind of a detachment from the monotonous routine is important for good mental health.
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