Nature is a great de-stressor. The benefits of breathing in fresh air and feeling it swirl around you have long been researched and understood. It has been proven that getting out into a natural environment, clearing your mind with nature, and finding new ways to envelope yourself in mother earth is good for both our physical and mental health.
The great outdoors improves our mood, lowers anxiety and depression, reduces feelings of stress, enhances our confidence and self esteem and promotes a healthy lifestyle. Getting out in nature does not necessarily mean making our way across mountains or swimming in the sea. There are many things we can do to include the outdoors in our everyday lives, from the comfort of our own homes or not far from it. And if necessary, bring it indoors.
1. Breathe It In
If you have a garden, stepping outside and appreciating the natural space you have in a mindful way can have a positive impact on your mood. From the flowers we grow, the smell of freshly cut grass, garden ponds and water features, nature is happening all around us. A simple bird feeder in the garden will open your outdoor room to a host of new friends.
For many, gardens are limited but if there is a green space close by, remember to take time to breathe in the fresh air. Parks, playing fields, even the allotments can give us the space to take part in nature. Going for a walk is one of the simplest ways to find yourself immersed in the natural world, especially considering Ireland has some of the most beautiful walkways and nature trails available to us.
2. Green Fingers
No matter the size of your garden or balcony, you can indulge in a bit of gardening and put your green fingers to work. Even if you have no experience in gardening, there’s no time like the present to start. It’s a fantastic activity to encourage our children to get involved in also. Adding window boxes, seasonal plant pots, or if you have the space a polytunnel or vegetable patch, will give you great satisfaction in growing and nurturing plants and produce from scratch.
Gardens can be much more than a lawn with bedding. We can create sensory gardens allowing us to indulge in nature through taste – the vegetables, fruit, and herbs we plant and grow; smell – the intense scents of flowers bring a whole other world to our gardens enticing birds, butterflies, and bees; and sight – there is nothing more beautiful than a loved garden dancing in front of us in all of its vibrant colours.
Grounding or earthing is a very simple and basic way to connect mindfully with nature and reenergise your body and mind. Research indicates grounding can reduce inflammation and may have cardiovascular benefits. In its simplest form, grounding is reconnecting your body with the world by walking or standing barefoot on natural ground such as grass, sand or a stony beach, or wading through water.
Allowing ourselves to root our bodies in nature creates a natural electrical pulse as we soak up the earth through our skin and bones. Imagine feeling the sun on our faces and feeling the warmth. Grounding works on the same principle of feeling the earth rise through our bodies.
Simple grounding techniques include imagining you are a tree and stretching your body, from your toes in the ground to your arms reaching up to the sky. If pretending to be a tree is not your thing, then simply take your shoes and socks off and feel the ground. Mindfully walk and connect with the earth.
Bring It Indoors
If you don’t have the space to indulge in nature in a garden or allotment, why not bring nature indoors and grow indoor plants. Having plants in our home is known to naturally purify our air from the many toxins buzzing around our houses. They release water, naturally humidifying our air and release oxygen giving us better air to breathe. If you don’t have any plants in your home, now is the time to start a collection. Caring for large indoor plants, does more than just add greenery to your rooms. It improves health, reduces stress and anxiety.
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