5 ways to connect with nature for better mental health

There’s a reason people say to take a walk on the wild side of life – spending time outdoors can increase our vitamin D intake, as well as reduce blood pressure, muscle tension and energy production. stress hormones. Nature is unequivocally good for our body.

But the benefits go beyond the physical; there can be a variety of mental and emotional reasons for wanting to date. Perhaps you seek the mental clarity of having green space around you, or the grounding effect of feeling both feet firmly on the ground. It might seem like a pretty personal thing – what we look for in nature – and, perhaps, what you seek to get out of the natural world changes every time you step into it.

But, in order to truly reap the mental health benefits of the great outdoors, perhaps we should focus our intentions more. It is believed that, rather than the time we spend outdoors, the quality of our interactions with nature is the most important factor (as far as our mental health is concerned).

Feeling bound with our natural environment is what we should aim for, for maximum benefit.

So how can we develop our connection with the natural world?

1. If you are going to be in nature, to be in nature

In other words, getting out is the first step. To really enjoy the time spent in the fresh air, you need to focus on getting out of your head and into your body.

In our busy lives, there can be a temptation to make our commutes as fast and fast as possible. That might mean checking your email while walking the dog or catching up on a podcast on your cycle to work. Of course, productivity has its place. But could you benefit from completely disconnecting once in a while and just being in the moment?

Why not go for a walk and leave your phone at home, or at least put it on airplane mode? It can help disconnect you from a busy day, allowing you to focus on the present and notice what’s around you. sights, sounds and smells.

2. Use all your senses

Speaking of sights, sounds, and smells, our senses are key tools for connecting with the natural world. One way to use them is to try the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique the next time you go out.

Look around, focus, and slowly observe your surroundings. Try to identify:

  • Five things you can see – the smaller the detail, the better.
  • Four things you can touch – it could be grass or a tree if you are in a park, or it could be sand and water if you are at the beach. How do they feel?
  • Three things you can hear – birds, rain, wind. How close or far are the sounds?
  • Two things you can feel – a bonfire, freshly cut grass or the smell of rain on the sidewalk. Research shows that exposing your lungs to fresh air can help relieve stress and anxiety. So, be sure to breathe deeply.
  • One thing you can taste – you may find that you have to use your imagination for this item.

3. Look for nature in your online consumption

Getting outside is the obvious way to connect with nature, but it’s not just about the great outdoors. There are ways to access nature from inside your home, and even while watching TV or on your phone. In fact, research shows that viewing nature photos and videos online can impact our emotions just as much.
might as well be outside.

In a study of BBC Earth, participants who only watched a few minutes of Earth felt 46% more amazement and 31% more gratitude than participants who watched other types of TV programs. Research suggests that even brief engagement with nature’s content can lead to a significant increase in positive emotions, including contentment, joy, and amusement.

So the next time you’re stuck for something to watch, pick up a program about the natural world. (extra points if presented by Sir David Attenborough). Or start following inspiring social media accounts and turn your scrolling time into an experience of wondering the natural world. Some of our favorite Instagram accounts are @bbcearth, @forestryengland, and @Earth.

4. Engage with Wildlife

Call us biased, but one of the best things about the natural world has to be the animal kingdom. If you have a pet, be sure to make time to play or spend time with it. Not only will this benefit you, but it’s also great for their sense of well-being.

If you don’t have a pet, there are plenty of other ways to access wildlife magic. You can set up a bird feeder and keep an eye out for robins in your backyard, or even watch out for pigeons in your local town. Birdwatching is renowned for its conscious benefits, but if you’re not a fan of birds, there are a plethora of creatures you can watch and take more notice of, whether it’s squirrels or birds. bees.

For more information on the benefits of caring for local wildlife, to find a nature reserve near you, or to volunteer for a conservation project, visit faunatrusts.org.

animal magic

Animals offer many innovative ways to support our mental health. animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a therapeutic model that incorporates animals to help with both physical and mental health conditions. Studies have shown AAT to be particularly helpful in reducing anxiety, depression, and isolation, while increasing motivation, feelings of social support, and decreasing perception of pain.

5. Be inspired to be creative

Many people find that nature inspires them to create, whether through painting, drawing, photography or writing. There are so many things just begging to be our source of creativity, from vibrant and fiery autumn leaves to the crackle of frost underfoot on a cold winter morning.

Creative activities offer their own benefits for well-being, as they allow us to develop hobbies and flex our artistic muscles – so there are even more reasons to combine creativity with our natural surroundings!

Next time you go for a walk, why not set out with the intention of capturing your surroundings? You could take photos of five moments of natural beauty. Or you can try your hand at creative writing, jotting down a few sentences about what you’ve been through.

Nature can help us maintain positive mental health, or if you’re struggling with a mental health issue, it can be a great complement to other types of support, like talking therapies or medication.

If you want to find out how ecotherapy Where walking and talking therapy could help you, you can read more about Counseling Directory.

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