It is so easy to get lost and even burnt out in our fast-paced, digitally driven world. Amidst this journey to navigate such a demanding time, it is even easier to overlook the transformative mental health benefits our natural environment can provide for us. Nature has the potential to give us rest, comfort, and resilience in the midst of our suffering. In this post, we will uncover the many ways that nature can impact our well-being in an authentic and sustainable way.
One of the kindest gifts nature gives us is its ability to reduce stress and welcome relaxation. Just being surrounded by the deep, green tones of a forest or the gentle break of waves on the shore can signal our bodies to relax after experiencing stress.
In a world consumed by pressure and stress, nature provides us with a consistent space for us to experience peace and connection. When we fully embrace our surroundings, we welcome the present moment. This allows us to extend gratitude and attune our focus to the beauty of the natural world. In this, we find the space to experience peace and connection in the fullest form.
A connection with nature can even trigger the release of our “feel-good” neurotransmitter, dopamine! This release can result in increased feelings of happiness and even an improved mood. This connection can be individualized to what best fits into your routines and can be something as simple as watering your plants or taking your dog for a walk. Nature, in one form or another, is widely accessible and thus a great source of constant support for your mental health.
Take a moment this week to intentionally connect with nature. Whether it’s during your lunch break or after you get off work, a short moment with nature can refresh your mind.
Mindful Walks: Practice mindfulness during a walk of any length and in any setting by focusing on your surroundings. This can be done by immersing all of your senses in what is around you and allowing yourself to fully engage with your environment.
Outdoor Hobbies: Do something that piques your interest…outdoors! This could be doing photography at a park rather than in a studio, going on a picnic rather than to a restaurant, or exercising outdoors rather than at the gym.
Birdwatching: You do not need to be an expert in zoology for this one, as there are many apps and websites that can guide you through the identification process. This is a great one to try the morning before a stressful day, because listening to birds chirping has been found to soothe feelings of anxiety!
Create a Garden: If you have access to a greenspace, consider cultivating some flowers or plants. Taking care of greenery can be rejuvenating for all involved. Nature provides so many benefits to our mental health, so taking care of your plants can even be a form of self-care!
Environmental Education: If you do not have access to a natural environment, do not worry! There are so many documentaries, articles, and podcasts about wildlife, advocacy, or unique landscapes that you can explore to facilitate a deeper connection with nature.
Weekend Escapes: If possible, grab some friends and plan a weekend trip to a new natural setting. There are plenty of opportunities available to you in the state, as Tennessee has many waterfalls, hiking trails, and lakes to give you that change of scenery and intentional connection with nature.
The best way for you to connect with nature is the way that feels the most genuine and authentic to you. Have fun and enjoy your moment with nature this week!