Most of us are aware of the effect that the natural world has on our wellbeing. It can be incredibly calming being in nature. Where we are removed from distractions and can reflect on our lives. It brings with it an awareness that we are part of something greater than ourselves.
"Nature calms you, it settles you and allows you to step back and
reflect on the very essence of what living is about."
– Signe Johansen, How to Hygge
Nature brings me clarity. If I'm at a point where I'm confused, anxious and feeling a little off course, then escaping to nature will bring me back to a more balanced state of mind.
But escaping to nature isn't always easy. And not often prioritised by many of us.
It's quite common to live in urban areas where we are surrounded by buildings, cars and chaos. It's busy and noisy. And we often fill our days with endless activity and digital distractions. We rarely remove ourselves from it or give ourselves a chance to feel that sense of peace that nature can provide.
So how do we connect with nature when our lives are so busy? Or when we live in urban areas?
It takes a conscious effort. Allowing ourselves the time. And finding natural beauty in our immediate surrounding, which we quite often overlook.
It could be as simple as leaving for work 15 minutes earlier than usual and sitting in a park close to your office. Leaving your phone on silent in your bag. And just sitting still.
You could take your work lunch outdoors. Find a green area to sit in, rather than at your desk.
If possible you could move your desk to a position with a view. The picture above is the view from my window where my desk sits. Behind that is a fence and a house. But having that little area of green helps me feel calm.
Move your exercise routine from being inside a gym to outdoors in nature. And notice your surrounding as you exercise. I try to go for a run a few mornings a week. And while it's challenging and I'm exhausted, I try to be conscious of my surrounding as I run. How the clouds look as the sun is rising, the feeling of air brushing against my face, the sound of the birds singing, the different smells of flowers as I pass houses in the neighbourhood. It creates an experience. Ignites the senses. And I feel a connection with nature.
When time allows, escape from the city. To coastal areas, farmland, forest or bushland. And make a conscious effort to put your phone away. To allow yourself to explore and notice.
It's something I feel we need to be aware of with our children as well. As life is becoming more sedentary and we tend to be indoors for much of the time, it's important that we guide them to notice the beauty in the natural world. To help them develop a relationship with it and an awareness of its healing properties.
In the morning when I first bring the kids downstairs, I open the front door and say "Let's look at the day". And we stand still for a moment noticing the sky, the birds and the temperature.
The school education system could encourage teachers to take their students outside to learn rather than sitting at a desk inside for most of the day. I have memories of my sixth grade teacher doing this. That year was the most enjoyable year of my school life. And one in which I feel I personally thrived.
Above all I think that being in nature brings the awareness that we really are just spectators of something greater than ourselves. We are quite often caught up in our own thoughts. With our own dramas and problems. But when in nature you begin to realise that really, they aren't that significant. That life is always moving and changing. That we naturally adapt and move along with it.