For me, connecting with nature has been my way of dealing with life when “life” gets to be too much.
There’s nothing like spending time in nature to feed my soul. Whether it’s taking a long wilderness walk, working in my gardens, or just sitting quietly outside with the sun on my face. It’s these times when I feel most at peace with myself and the world. The most wonderful thing is that the feeling lingers long after my time in nature has ended.
So, whenever I feel my calm and peace really slipping, I know it’s time to take a walk, clear my head and again find my balance.
I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience before. Like when you’ve had a particularly bad day and then were distracted by something beautiful in nature, and suddenly, your state of mind improved.
The trick is using what we now know to be good for us and turn it into a practice for self-care. Regularly connecting with nature should be something we make time to incorporate into our everyday wellness plans, much like eating right or getting enough sleep.
Connecting With Nature and Mental Health
In recent years, researchers have been studying Ecotherapy, also known as Forest Therapy as a way to treat anxiety and depression. Now, I’m no doctor, but I know that there’s truth to the idea that nature can be used as a form of therapy. I’ve used it for years without knowing anything except that I always felt better and seemed to have a better perspective after connecting with nature.
Ecotherapy is based on the idea that people are connected to and impacted by the natural environment and spending time in nature can improve mood, reduce anxiety and depression, and even help with ADHD and help with aggression in Alzheimers patients. There’s a growing body of evidence to support this.
What Does Ecotherapy Consist Of?
Ecotherapy is a broad term for a range of techniques and practices that lead to circles of mutual healing between the human mind and the natural world from which it evolved. It may include horticultural therapy, wilderness excursion work, time stress management, and certain kinds of animal-assisted therapy.
True ecotherapy typically involves guidance from a therapist trained in ecotherapy and its approaches, but youcan definitely create your own nature-based wellness practice by incorporating some of the ideas I’ve listed below.
Benefits of Connecting With Nature through Ecotherapy Practice
There are many benefits to be had by developing a practice for connecting with nature.
12 Easy Ways for Connecting With Nature
- Go Barefoot – Stand barefoot in natural surroundings; feel how solid the earth feels beneath your feet and focus on your connection to the earth. This therapeutic technique is also called “grounding” or “earthing” that involves doing activities that “ground” or electrically reconnect you to the earth. Evidence suggests that electrical charges from the earth can have positive effects on your body.
- Go On A Picnic – Instead of going to a restaurant, pack a picnic and eat it at a scenic location.
- Take Your Lunchbreak Outside – Even if it’s not possible to find a green spot to have your lunch, the very act of being outside has its benefits. Think fresh air, a change of scenery, and Vitamin D.
- Take a Walk – There’s honestly not much more restorative than a woodland walk. Live in the City? No worries, find a public park or some green space, and enjoy looking at the flowers or trees.
- Grow Something – For me, my garden is my therapy in the warmer months. I love the anticipation of watching something grow and materialize as something nourishing for my family. I even find pulling weeds to be a time spent in contemplation. No space for a garden, try windowsill herbs.
- Bring Nature Indoors – as a nature lover, I have no problem with this, in fact, my family just accepts it when I bring in another nature “specimen”. To put it in perspective, I have a collection of 6 giant hornet nests that were winter collected.
- Get Some Houseplants – Aside from improving your home’s air quality, houseplants add a bit of green to your indoor surroundings. Not a plant person? Try one that’s super-low maintenance like a spider plant. There’s also the feeling of accomplishment when you care for something, and it grows.
- Adopt a Sit-Spot Routine – You find a favorite spot to sit in nature (should be no further than a 5-minute walk from your home) and visit it several times a week and just observe. Naturalists agree that it’s the best way to really learn about the species around you.
- Watch a Sunrise or Sunset – There’s something magical about observing the start or end of a day intentionally. I still think of the time I woke up early intentionally to watch the sunrise. There was something very restorative about being intentional and mindful in the moment. It made me realize that I’m only a tiny part of a much bigger whole.
- Open Your Curtains and Blinds or Windows (if It’s Warm Enough) – Opening your windows, blinds, curtains, and even doors allow sunlight and natural air to flow through your home, giving it a more relaxing and natural atmosphere.
- Stargaze – One of my favorites! It’s incredibly humbling to be reminded that our lives here on Earth are a part of an enormous picture formed by millions of worlds that we can hardly even begin to dream of.
- Visit a Farmer’s Market – Making a conscious effort to eat well from ingredients you know were freshly grown and locally harvested is a great way to feel a connection with nature. I always feel greater satisfaction with my meal when it’s made from homegrown ingredients.