With so many of us living in large, urban cities, it can be easy to feel disconnected from the natural world. Unlike our ancestors, we don’t spend our days out in the wilderness. Instead, for many of us, the vast majority of our time is spent in homes staring at screens, sat in cars in traffic and in air-conditioned office buildings.
And yet, despite our seemingly safe and stimulating surroundings, there seems to be a part of us that’s hardwired to appreciate nature. According to figures from Mind, 95 percent of survey respondents claim they felt better after spending time in nature. Another study has found that we even love just pictures of nature, with photos of natural surroundings by far the most popular out of a choice of photographs.
Time and again, research has shown nature to have a multitude of health benefits, from improved concentration to reduced stress. So fortunately, even in our busy, urbanised world, there are plenty of ways we can let nature in and reap its rewards. As these examples show, we don’t need to go out of our way – often it’s simply a matter of noticing nature’s presence in our everyday lives and embracing it.
1. Earthing/ lying on the grass
When was the last time you went barefoot? It’s not something we do very often, but according to the not-so-new earthing movement, we should embrace the feeling of grass or sand between our toes more often.
If you haven’t heard of earthing yet, I recommend giving it a google. It’s a movement that recognises that – just as the sun supplies us with warmth and vitamin D – absorbing the earth’s energy can also bring benefits to our wellbeing. Taking our shoes off and allowing our feet to have direct contact with the earth energises and revitalises us – just like soaking in the sun does.
If you aren’t keen on kicking off your shoes, even just lying on the grass can help us to feel more connected with nature. My advice: rather than reading your book or having your morning coffee indoors, find a spot in your backyard or a neighbourhood park and simply be with the earth beneath you.
2. Observe the seasons
We all know when a new season rolls around, but how often we do we actually take the time to observe the changes in our environment? To watch the leaves gradually change colour and fall in autumn or to appreciate the blossoming of flowers in spring?
Simply by observing our environment in a mindful way, we can strengthen our wellbeing. In fact, taking notice of our world and surroundings is considered by mental health experts to be one of the five central pillars to positive mental health. By consciously appreciating the beauty of the natural world around us, we bring ourselves out of the worry and stress of what’s ahead of us, and into the present moment.
I believe in process. I believe in four seasons. I believe that winter's tough, but spring's coming.
I believe that there's a growing season. And I think that you realize that in life, you grow.
You get better.
- Steve Southerland
3. Dance in the rain
When the rain comes, our instinctive reaction tends to be to cower and hope to find shelter as soon as possible. It’s natural enough, but what if we just took a leaf from Gene Kelly’s book and just embraced it by ‘Singin’ in the rain’?
Contrary to popular belief, as long as you’re already healthy with a good immune system and you don’t stay out for too long to catch a chill, dancing in the rain isn’t likely to get you sick. Plus, it can be pretty fun. Who doesn’t want an excuse to jump in puddles and act like a kid again? Let her play.
4. Eat a whole foods/ plant-based diet
Nature can nurture us in many ways, but one of the most important is in our diet. What we eat every day has a huge impact on overall health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle often pushes us to overly consume processed food, which is far worse for us than food in its natural form. Remember those fruit and veg recommendations of 'five plus a day?' According to one study from the UK, only 13 percent of men and 15 percent of women meet that quota.
Switching to a whole foods or plant-based diet means consuming food that is in its natural state, packed with natural vitamins and minerals, like fruit and veggies, legumes, nuts and whole grains. With benefits such as a strengthened immune system, increased energy, and improved mental wellbeing, it’s of the best ways to embrace the natural world.
5. Diving under a wave/ waterfall
There aren’t many experiences as invigorating as diving under a crashing wave or a waterfall. The feeling of cool water against your skin, the rushing surge of water from above, the burst of fresh air as you emerge… it’s pretty hard to beat. So next time you’re sitting on the lake or beachside, debating if you should dive in – just do it. Wash away negativity, worry and stress and breathe in clarity, hope and healing. You’ll feel amazing afterwards, trust me!
How do you nurture yourself in nature?
Let us know in the comments below. And share this with someone who needs a little love.