Tell me, does spending time in nature nourish your soul? As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression my entire life, I often had times where I was desperate for something to make me feel better. There were days where it felt like no matter what I tried, I remained a prisoner of my thoughts and couldn’t escape the gnawing feeling of fear and negativity. But one thing always made a difference for me, and that was spending time in nature.
Living in the city has meant that nature is rare to find. I often yearn for it, and for this reason, I find the time I spend in it to be so valuable. My favourite local parks become my little sanctuaries. I am NOT claiming that nature is the be-all and end-all solution to curing all our ailments, that would be irresponsible of me. But, what I am saying is, FOR ME, the positive impact it has had, on my mental health especially, has been incredible.
Read more: 6 TYPES OF SELF-CARE & WAYS TO PRACTICE THEM
And we can’t ignore the research!
Studies have shown that being in nature has many benefits for both our mental and physical health, so this may come as no surprise. Have a look through these awesome reads on the subject:
⇾ How Does Nature Impact Our Well-being? – takingcharge.csh.umn.edu
⇾ How Nature Is Good For Our Health And Happiness – bbc.com
With the hope of inspiring you to take better care of your well-being, I thought I’d share 10 ways nature can nourish your soul:
# 1 – It calms me
There is something undeniably soothing about being surrounded by nature. It instantly slows down my racing mind. I can’t explain how this works, I just know it does, and that’s enough for me. Whether it’s the gentle breeze or the quiet feeling of stillness – there’s just something incredibly powerful about nature’s calming effect.
# 2 – I feel connected to earth
On a bad mental health day, I feel disconnected with everyone and everything. Nature has a way of making me feel connected again. It’s as if Mother Earth wraps her arms around us, comforting us, and letting us know it’ll all be okay. It’s a reminder that we’re all (both human and non-human) on this planet together, going through ups and downs, and getting through them. This connection helps us to feel less alone and more hopeful.
# 3 – It helps me put things into perspective
When in nature, our world feels so vast. The issue that’s been causing havoc in my anxious mind, the one that first seemed impossible to me, all of a sudden begins to feel not so huge and terrifying. Nature has a way of helping us see things more clearly. It reminds us that a new day awaits us tomorrow, and then the next. And this helps turn our irrational, debilitating thoughts into more realistic and healthy thinking patterns.
For instance, I can more clearly understand that failing at that work task will NOT be the end of the world. It will not kill me. Nature helps me put things into perspective.
# 4 – I feel inspired by its resilience
When in nature, I can’t help but feel inspired by how tough it is. Take a tree, for instance. Many of them I come across have been on this earth long before my lifetime and will remain long after. Through rain or shine, they stand tall and survive, day after day. This strength inspires me and helps me to persevere.
# 5 – I feel inspired by its beauty
Nature is imperfectly beautiful. It doesn’t try. It just is. And its beauty can be found in every inch of it. Whether it be the budding trees, the flowers in bloom, or the fluffy-looking clouds, everything has a beauty to it. This beauty is inspiring. You learn to notice and appreciate even the smallest of things, and you start to think outside the box more.
A tulip I notice on my walk, for instance, may lead me to countless new blog post ideas, and other ways I can be creative. I cannot tell you how many times a simple walk in the park has sparked my creativity.
# 6 – The world around me slows down
When I’m anxious, my thoughts race. I think one negative thought after the next, and the stress feels overwhelming. During these times, everything feels tense and fast-paced. When I’m in nature, though, everything magically slows down. Nature feels still, and that stillness is contagious. Spending even 15 minutes on a park bench taking in my surroundings, will soothe and slow down my anxious mind. This stillness is powerful, and it strengthens me to get through the negative, overwhelming state I’m in.
# 7 – It helps me to be more mindful and present
When I’m in nature, I’m not distracted. I turn off my phone, and I am present. Focusing our awareness on the present moment can be a difficult thing to do. The hustle and bustle of everyday life surrounds us. And for those of us who also struggle with anxious thoughts, this becomes even harder to do. But, being in nature allows you to be mindful and present. It makes it possible and easier to do.
You begin to focus on the singing bird or the squirrel that’s climbing up the tree, or the scent of a flower you’ve just passed. All these sights and sounds heighten your senses and become your focus. You are in the moment, rather than in some faraway land of stressful thoughts.
# 8 – It teaches me patience
A flower blooms when it’s ready – you cannot force it to. Nature teaches me that things happen when they’re supposed to happen. Any time I find myself frantically worrying about something that needs to get done, time in nature reminds me that it’ll all work out in the end. It teaches me to let things go, and that things don’t always end up the way we want them to, but that’s okay. It allows me to take a step back, take a breather, and to be more patient in life and with myself.
# 9 – It teaches me gratitude
I’m a big believer in the power of gratitude for our well-being. You can more easily turn around a bad day if you actively seek out even the smallest of things in your day to be thankful for. Spending time in nature helps you cultivate gratitude. It reminds you to be grateful for the air you breathe, the warmth of the bright sunshine, and the beauty that surrounds you. Gratitude has been a powerful factor in maintaining my mental health.
# 10 – It energizes me
When I’m in a funk, or unmotivated, spending time in nature has never failed to give me the energy I’ve been needing. I tend to feel more motivated, productive, and clear-headed after a simple walk in the park. Nature can spark my creativity and put me in a more optimistic mindset, one that allows me to think that even my wildest goals and dreams are possible to attain.
When was the last time you spent some good ol’ quality time in nature? And how did it make you feel? Whether you agree with my thoughts on nature or not, the research doesn’t lie! There are very real benefits of nature on your mental and physical health. So, the next time you need a mental health or wellness boost, try turning to nature. You may thoroughly enjoy what you find. Until next time, my friends! <3