It is one of those truths we inherently know, but for those of us in more urban surroundings, getting our nature fix can feel a little too infrequent. With spring showing its buds, we can start to feel the allure of the new greenery showing and it is no surprise that studies link more time with nature and less time with technology helps to lower anxiety, depression and other stress-related symptoms.
The natural world has an intuitive pull for humans; referred to as biophilia, this need can be easily quashed in the face of work stress, gadgetry and lots of ‘stuff to do’. But whilst these pursuits speed us up, being bathed in greenery, birdsong and the rustle of the wind has a full-body slowing down effect. We can feel our shoulders releasing and our breath loosening, even notice those expressions we make to the outside world start to soften; sunlight on our faces easing clenched jaws, scrunched foreheads and tight lips.
Even if you don’t have a garden to escape to or vast acres of countryside on your doorstep, you can seek out those pockets of nature through your daily life and watch your routines seem a little less harsh and coping mechanisms less reactive. Taking the longer route through a park to work, finding a bench under a tree to eat lunch or simply noticing the trees around you adds up and can remind you to prioritise getting out for a walk and find outdoor exercise whenever you can. With research showing that activities taken in nature reduce stress hormones much more effectively than in urban settings, why not take advantage of something we love to make life more relaxed.
- Mindful attention – once you begin to connect, the flood of sights, smells, sounds and feelings around you can tune you in to your own body as a part of this natural ebb and flow.
- Finding stillness – nature has a way of cutting through our busy brains and putting everything into perspective; just watching the birds can move us to a meditative state.
- Constant change – nature isn’t just there on the sunny days; feel everything without needing to judge and watch the effects of all states – come wind, rain and cold, be with it!