The world is a noisy place. Whether it is the TV, social media, the chatter of those around us, or even the thoughts in our own heads, it can be difficult to find a quiet moment to just mentally exhale. Times of mental exhalation are very important to good mental health. One of the ways to find this is by connecting with the natural world. Studies have shown that time in nature can significantly reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, and be generally beneficial to mental well-being.
For myself, I have found that time in the woods taking in the sounds and smells of nature has been good for my soul. Sitting by a bubbling brook or listening to the ocean waves has a way of quieting my mind. Time is nature can include exercise such as running, cross country skiing, or snowshoeing to name a few. This does not have to always be the case as simply resting outdoors or getting your hands dirty in the soil can be just as beneficial. The sky (literally!) is the limit when it comes to ways to commune with nature.
Mindfulness is a term that is often heard these days when it comes to mental health. While explanations of what this means can fill books, in sum, it is learning to fill your mind with the here and now instead of focusing on concerns for the future and the ‘to do’ list, or ruminating on the past.
A few simple ideas from www.mind.org.uk :
- Go fruit picking at a local farm or orchard
- Plant a garden
- Bring nature indoors by having potted plants
- Eat meals outdoors
- Go beach combing or geocaching
- Take pictures of nature
- Plant bee and butterfly friendly flowers
- Walk your dog (without earbuds!)
- Birdwatching or search for wildlife- counting deer in the Spring in country fields is still a favourite of my dad’s!
As you can see there are lots of ways to connect to the natural world. Try some on this list or come up with your own idea. The important thing is that you unplug from the noise and just be in the world around you.