10 Easy Ways to Connect With Nature & Improve Wellness
by Michelle Dudley
Have you exposed yourself lately? To your amazing home Planet Earth, that is?
Our brains, bodies, and souls need regular exposure to our natural surroundings to fully thrive. As humans, we hunger and thirst for this type of nourishment.
In fact, our stress increases with little relief when we are constantly tethered to technology or remain inside our “shelters” (think: offices, cars, homes, and other man-made structures) for extended periods of time.
We are “sheltered” from the rich aroma of soil, the sensation of sand between our toes, the uplifting melody of chirping birds, the warm sun on our skin, the expansive wonder of infinite stars in the clear night sky, the rhythm of a gurgling brook and ocean waves breaking on the shore, and the mesmerizing sound of rustling leaves as we watch a swaying tree.
Immersing ourselves in the outdoors and savoring its gifts with all five of our senses is proven to decrease blood pressure and heart rate. It can also help reduce stress levels, decrease depression, and improve feelings of well-being.
Here are 10 easy ways to connect with nature and reap the health benefits:
1. Go for a walk outside.
2. Explore the perfect harmony of the landscape around you whenever possible.
3. Contemplate the night sky.
4. Tend a garden by growing your own vegetables in pots or a plot (or create a rooftop garden if you live in a city).
5. Take a barefoot walk on the beach.
6. Go for a leisurely bike ride.
7. Ask a friend to walk with you in a green space .
8. Visit a park and plan a simple picnic.
9. Take a forest hike over the weekend.
10. Sit outside on your porch or in your yard and just notice what nature might be showing you.
If you live in the city or a harsh external environment and struggle to find the time or opportunity to connect with the outdoors, here are some alternatives:
- Download the Calm app on your phone. This free app offers beautiful scenes and environments (both visual and auditory), as well as guided meditation, to help you connect with nature.
- Purchase a nature DVD or subscribe to a nature channel. (Planet Earth Series DVDs, Naturevisiontv.com, or Naturerelaxation.com)
- Browse YouTube for channels with nature scenes and sounds (8 hours Calming Nature sounds – Johnnie Lawson)
- Download a music app like Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, or Pandora and listen to one of their nature channels. (Nature Sounds Station on Amazon Music, Nature Sounds on Spotify, or Nature Sounds Radio on Pandora)
- Take time to look out your window and just notice, listen to, and absorb the beauty around you.
- Disconnect from any media that leaves you feeling stressed and negative.
Make it a practice to tune in to the rhythm of earth around you and I promise your mind, body, and spirit will thank you!
For additional resources, check out:
“Immerse Yourself in a Forest for Better Health”, NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (dec.ny.gov)
Dr. Qing Li, Chairman of the Japanese Society for Forest Medicine wrote a book just published 4-2018: Forest Bathing- How trees can help you find health and happiness.