I have always been drawn to spending time in nature. Growing up, I loved going to my grandparents cottage. Some of my happiest and most carefree memories are from time spent at the cottage, where I was outside pretty much all day, everyday.
I remember waking up, having breakfast and heading down to the beach as fast as I could. I’d only come back to the cottage for lunch and supper and other than that I was busy swimming and building sandcastles. Not much has changed, I still adore spending time in nature, especially the beach, and it’s easy to see the many benefits that come along with getting outside!
There’s something about spending time outdoors that feels uplifting and healing. Many research studies have shown that spending time in outdoor environments reduces stress, improves cognitive function, and boosts energy and mood.
It can be difficult to make time to get outdoors though; life is busy, there’s a never ending to do list, and parks and trails might be far away. However, I believe that nature is all around us, and we can incorporate spending more time in nature into our daily lives.
Here are 3 ways to spend more time in nature:
Get Outside for a Walk!
This is one of the most simple and beneficial pieces of advice I can give. You don’t need fancy equipment or a trip to a nearby trail to get the benefits of walking outdoors. All you need is yourself and a pair of decent shoes. It doesn’t have to be a long walk either, and you don’t need to make it complicated by leaving your neighbourhood or commuting to a park (although you certainly can!) - just get out the door!
Nature is all around us, it’s the flower popping out of the crack in the pavement, it’s your neighbour’s garden, the blue sky, and the birds that fly overhead. You can walk around your block or down the street in your city and still experience the beauty of the natural world around you, you may just have to look a bit closer in some places to find it.
Research has shown that walking, both indoors and outdoors, decreases risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and increases energy and mood. A recent study found though, that walking in outdoor environments can provide additional cognitive benefits. This study found that walking outside provides greater mental restoration and relaxation than walking inside. The researchers also found that when the participants walked outdoors, they experienced a significantly higher meditative and relaxed state during and after the walk.
If you struggle to find the time or motivation to get out the door, see if you can add the walk onto an activity you’re already doing, like listening to a podcast or audiobook. When you reach for the play button on your favourite podcast, grab your shoes and get out the door as you listen.
Move Your Daily Activities Outside
Whether it’s eating a meal or reading a good book, a lot of what we do inside can be taken outside. Take a moment and think about a typical day in your life, how much time do you spend outdoors? Where do you eat? Where do you exercise? Learn? Socialize? So much of our lives takes place indoors.
When I reflect on my own life, there are many days where I eat breakfast inside, then turn my attention to a screen of some kind, after that I grab my yoga mat to get into the car to drive to a yoga studio to do yoga inside, then I go home to spend more time inside and maybe later that night I might go to a restaurant with friends to eat inside. I think you get my point, when we take a moment to reflect on where we spend our time, we will often realize, we spend a lot of time indoors!
Spending time in indoor environments is not necessarily a bad thing, however, spending more time outside is hugely beneficial to our health. Along with taking the things you do on a regular basis outside, you may also consider incorporating other hobbies and activities into your life that are primarily based outdoors, such as gardening, nature viewing and outdoor exercise. Another recent study found that spending more time in outdoor environments, particularly those with green space, reduced the experience of stress and improved overall health.
Find a Sacred Nature Space
Find a space in nature where you can visit to read, relax, meditate, practice yoga, or whatever you choose. In the book, Rewilding by Micah Mortali, he recommends finding a sacred nature space near to where you live. This could be in your backyard or maybe in a nearby park. He suggests to allow yourself to intuitively find the space and choose somewhere that you’re naturally drawn to and that has good energy. He recommends taking time in this space to sit and be present, observing the nature around you.