We are all innately connected with nature whether you can feel it or not. Our environment affects our moods, our hormones and our health. However, the modern grind and busy city living has been limiting our time outdoors and has distanced us from the natural world.
Here Are 7 Tips To Help You Reconnect
1. Actively Seek Out Nature
Whether it’s a park in the city or going out to the country, prioritize being out in nature. You can find an activity that takes you outdoors or just simply explore. Just being immersed in nature for 15 minutes (without technology) can have great physiological benefits. Incorporating time in nature into your weekly or daily schedule is the most important action in reconnecting with the natural world.
> Find out about the amazing benefits that nature has on the brain, here.
2. Take Off Your Shoes
Walking barefoot on dirt or grass is an incredibly reenergizing practice. It helps with body awareness and with building the different muscles in your feet. Studies also show that it has many benefits like reducing chronic inflammation, improving sleep and reducing stress.
By taking off our shoes and walking in nature we are reconnecting to Earth’s electrons. These electrons are transferred from the ground to our bodies. Grounding or physical contact of our feet to earth has proved to help our Circadian rhythms and help regulate our autonomic nervous system.
Some specialists suggest that the physical disconnection from nature is a key factor in the increase of diseases in industrialized populations. So find a safe place in nature to take off your shoes and walk barefoot.
Every living thing on our Earth gets its energy from the sun. We are no different. The sun has many benefits on our physical, mental and emotional well being. It is the most natural way of getting vitamin D, which is essential to our immune systems.
However, when sun bathing, do so mindfully. Overexposure can be dangerous long term by causing damage to the skin. To get the benefits of the sun and mitigate the dangers, be sure to wear high SPF protection, especially on your face. Expose yourself during the cooler early morning sun and only for short bouts of time.
4. Go Near A Body Of Water
Being near large bodies of water can make us feel calmer and happier. Studies have proven that exposure to water in a natural environment significantly impacts our psychological well being. So when you can, seek out a beach, lake or river and spend some time in that natural environment.
5. Breathe Deep And Bring Awareness To Your 5 Senses
When immersed in nature, being fully present is an important factor to attaining all the benefits the experience has to offer. Cell phones or tech gadgets have been proven to distract subjects, even when in nature, impeding them from ameliorating their mental and emotional states.
Meditation techniques are a great way of cultivating presence and meditating in nature is one of the best things that one can do for their overall well being. However, this practice is foreign and even challenging for many. A good first introductory step is to take 5 to 10 minutes of quiet time in nature and bring awareness to your breath and five senses.
So turn off your phone and find a comfortable spot in nature to sit in. To quiet the mind and focus on the present moment, take the first minute or so to focus on your breath. Breath in deep through your diaphragm and right back out until you’ve emptied your body of air. If you’re having trouble keeping creeping thoughts at bay, count your breath – so like count to five as your breathing in, hold for a count of five, breath out for five and hold again for five. Repeat this several times.
The next step will be to gently observe all your senses. Pay attention to what you hear, smell and see. Bring attention to what your whole body is feeling, like the heat of the sun or a cool breeze on your cheek. Notice the parts of your body that are in physical contact with the ground and feel the gravity of the Earth pulling you downwards.
Once you’ve finished with this exercise you can be proud of yourself for actively connecting with your body and the earth.
> If you are a meditation newbie and would like some practical information on meditation techniques, click here for a complete how-to guide.
6. Learn About Local Plant And Wildlife
Another way to connect with nature is by learning about the local flora and fauna. What plants, trees, insects, and animals live locally? What are their characteristics? What do the local ecosystems look like?
Learning about what plants and wildlife are native to your area allows you to relate to your surroundings in a different way. Once you know what naturally lives around you, you can try to spot them. Some activities that you might find interesting that relies on this knowledge are foraging and birdwatching.
Understanding plants and wildlife in your surroundings also gives you the opportunity to give back, if you choose to do so. Something as simple as planting native flowers outside your window, could help local pollinators in your local ecosystem.
7. Get A Plant
If you can’t go out into nature, bring it home! Depending on your situation, it can be challenging to regularly take a trip to explore the natural world. A good way to reconnect with nature is by bringing it into your home. Start with one easy plant. Learn about its needs and how to help it thrive. When you’re committed to keeping it alive, you’re observing and touching the soil and plant on a regular basis to understand how it’s doing. As you gain confidence and knowledge, you can start to add and build your plant collection.
> Click here for the Essential Guide for plant newbies.
Sources: (1) J Environ Public Health Study – “Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons,” (2) Washington Post Article – “Could walking on earth barefoot improve your health?” (3) Environ Behav Study – “Marine Biota and Psychological Well-Being”