the physical world which includes plants, animals, and other features of the earth.
Nature as a practice is about connection. It is about raising our inner awareness of our unique relationship with the natural world and understanding our connection to all living things. Evolutionarily we are hard-wired to connect with nature but in our modern world this connection is often diminished. Cultivating practices that bring us back to nature can increase our overall well-being and support us in knowing ourselves and our world in deeper more meaningful ways.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ~ Albert Einstein
- A 2010 study found that just 5 minutes of activity in natural areas resulted in improvements in self-esteem and mood. Environmental Science and Technology
- A University of Michigan study found that after walking for 50 minutes in nature, subjects performed significantly better on memory-related tasks than subjects who walked in an urban environment.
- There is increasing evidence for a positive relation between green space in people’s living environment and self-reported indicators of physical and mental health. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
- “Nature is fuel for the soul” says Richard Ryan, lead author of a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. His research found that being outside in nature makes people feel more alive and just 20 minutes a day was enough to significantly boost vitality levels.
- Research out of Germany showed that people who had a connection with nature were more caring and generous.
- One study found that a 15-minute walk in nature created a 16 percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, a 2 percent drop in blood pressure, and a 4 percent drop in heart rate.
Practice connecting with nature if you want to reconnect with yourself and find balance in your life. If your stress is high and you are noticing an impact on your physical, emotional and mental well-being the best prescription might be more time in nature.
How To Start Practicing
Mindfulness – take a mindful walk in nature. In as little as 5 minutes you can feel a shift in your mood and energy. Explore Forest Therapy, also called shinrin-yoku or forest bathing. It is a research-based practice that incorporates the healing powers of nature with mindful walking.
Explore nature – Plan your vacation around nature, the beach, mountains or a forest retreat. Research local parks to see what nature is available in your area. If you have a yard spend more time outside. Put down the electronic devices, take off your shoes and connect your feet to the earth. Take up a hobby that you can do outdoors and in nature: hiking, water sports, nordic walking, skiing, camping, etc.
Bring nature inside – Add plants to your home and office environment. Identify plants that also purify the air. Hang pictures of nature. The research shows that photos and art that depict nature have a similar effect to being in nature.
Mindset – if you love being in nature then you probably don’t need any ideas on how to be in nature more. If you are not fond of nature or if you find yourself resisting the nature experience assess your mindset. How can you open yourself to nature? How can you create more opportunities to be outside and surround yourself with the natural world?
Take action – Encourage community and government projects that add plants and trees to the built environment. Advocate for more green spaces. Support organizations that connect people with nature. Work with schools to include more outside time for children.