Connecting To Nature for Your Overall Health
For me connecting to nature has been my go-to for both mental and physical health. In my opinion, there really is nothing like being out in nature to feed my mind, body, and soul. It's those times when I'm hiking to waterfalls or mountain summits to just relaxing in the sun by the river that I feel the most at peace with myself and my world. The great thing about this is that feeling has lasting effects and benefits. I have learned that spending time in nature on a regular basis is as necessary for me as staying hydrated.
If you've ever spent any time in nature, I'm sure you already know that there is something special about it.
I deal with anxiety, so I utilize nature to help me chill out. Not only is being out in nature good for my mental health it's great exercise. Any time I spend in nature really benefits my whole well-being.
So how can you implement Mother Nature into your self-care routine? Just like healthy eating and getting enough sleep, regularly connecting with nature should become part of your wellness plan.
What is Nature Therapy?
Nature therapy is a broad term that ranges in techniques and practices. Nature therapy is also known as Shinrin-Yoku ,ecotherapy, or green therapy. There is also a developing field called ecopsychology created by Theodore Roszak. Ecopsychology is the belief that people form part of the web of life and that our psyche is not independent of or detached from the environment.
Legit nature therapy typically involves guidance from a trained therapist in the field, but you could definitely create your own nature-based wellness practices by incorporating some of the ideas below.
What Are Some Benefits to Connecting with Nature?
Psychologist Terry Hartig did a study on several participants. They were asked to finish a 40-minute cognitive task designed to induce mental fatigue. Once that task was completed, they were asked to partake in one of three tasks, which were to be completed in 40 minutes.
Walk in a nature reserve
Walk in an urban area
Sit quietly and read magazines and listen to music
The results of this study revealed those who walked through the nature reserve were less angry than those who completed the other two tasks. There have been many studies done on the benefits of spending time in nature and mental health.
According to the Forest Service Department US Department of Agriculture, being outside in green spaces supports an active and healthy lifestyle, which has shown to increase life expectancy, improve sleep quality and reduce cancer risk.
12 Easy Ways to Start Connecting Now
Grounding or Earthing - a therapeutic technique that involves doing activities that "ground" or electrically reconnect you to the earth. You can walk barefoot or lie on the ground. Some evidence shows that the electrical charges from the earth can have positive effects on the body.
Go On a Picnic - instead of eating indoors pack your food and eat outdoors in a scenic spot.
Take Your Lunchbreaks Outside - think fresh air, change of scenery and vitamin D during your lunchbreaks. Even if you don't have a green spot to go to, just being outside has benefits.
Walk It Out - Woodland walks are extremely restorative. Find a public park or hit the trail. There are state parks and national parks that might charge a small fee, but the trails are usually well maintained and worth the couple of bucks. Enjoy the fresh air, trees and plants.
Grow Something - There is just something wonderful about nurturing something and watching it flourish and grow. Tending to a garden or flower bed is great time for deep contemplation. If you don't have space for a garden, try containers or windowsill herbs.
Bring Nature Indoors - I am definitely a nature lover so I have brought so many things inside my home that I have found during my nature adventures. I have a collection of rocks, turtle shells and animal skulls, bird and honeycomb looking nests to name a few. I even have a favorite log!
Get Some Houseplants - Houseplants can add quality to your air inside your home and add some green to your surroundings. Don't have a green thumb? Neither do I, but I've found that choosing low maintenance plants, like spider plants, is pretty doable even for me. Don't forget that there is a that feeling of accomplishment when you care for something, and it grows!
Adopt a Sit-Spot Routine - Find a favorite spot to sit in nature that is no longer than about 5 minutes from your front or back door. Make a habit of visiting this spot several times a week. Sit there and observe your surroundings. Naturalists say it is the best way to learn about the species in your area.
Watch a Sunrise or Sunset - Intentionally watching the day begin or end is magical and restorative. I remember when my family and I visited Hawaii, we had an amazing view of the ocean, and we could see the sun rise and set right outside our bedroom balcony. I intentionally woke up early the first 2 days just so I could see the sun rise. I'm not a morning person at all and never usually have to wake up before dawn at home. After 2 days my body just woke up before the sun rose, all on its own. I think my body needed that experience. I began my days there with so much gratitude and it carried on to after returning home. I can't see the sun rise the same way at home as I did there, but the memories and feelings are imprinted on me.
Open Your Curtains, Blinds or Windows - If the weather allows and you don't have horrible allergies, open your windows! Doing this allows natural light and air to flow through your home giving it a more relaxing and natural feel.
Stargaze - I'm pretty lucky that I live in the country with very little unnatural light pollution from nearby cities. On a clear night the stars and constellations are amazing! It's very humbling to be reminded that I am just a small part of a larger picture.
Learn How to Forage - Learning about edible plants that you can find while out in nature is an amazing way to connect to nature. Be sure to be thorough in your research and even take classes on foraging. There are many books, in person classes or online classes you can find.
I hope this has been informative and helpful to get you started on connecting to nature. Please feel free to let me know what you think and if you have anything to add to this list. Please share this blog with your friends and family and anyone else you think would benefit from it. Namaste!