Connecting with nature

One Saturday recently I felt lacklustre in my mood. My appearance reflected this, as my hair was dirty and I couldn't be bothered that morning to wash it. These little lapses in personal care can for me be indicators that I'm not feeling great. However, the day improved bit by bit. I got myself up and out and round to see my family. It was a lovely Spring day. Not too hot and not too cold. So we went for a walk in the forest. 

The combination of the sunshine, gentle exercise and pleasant company made a big difference to my mood. After the walk I even soaked in the bath and dealt with my dirty hair! That day reminded me how it is possible to turn the day around from an unpromising start. There are things I can do to shift my mood and regain some perspective. Spending time in nature is one thing that does this for me.

Photo by Steven Kamenar on Unsplash

I can't always make it to the forest, which prompted me to notice any other smaller ways I can connect with nature day-to-day. In the little block of flats in which I live, there's a carpark/communal garden. This simple space has well maintained trees, plants and flowers, and a bench. In good weather I sometimes sit on that bench for a little while. 

I can observe the changing seasons - from blossom covered branches in Spring, to green leaves in Summer, to fiery coloured leaves in Autumn, and bare branches in Winter - depending on the time of year. Sitting on that bench is another smaller way to have a little connection with nature, even in my urban neighbourhood. 

Photo by Metin Ozer on Unsplash

Since that mood-boosting time in the forest on that Saturday, I have felt more tuned into nature. If I sit in a coffee shop, I notice that on my table is a little vase with a flower in it. Again, it brings me back to nature even in a small way. And even the act of writing this, recalling time spent with nature, is in itself another way for me to reconnect with nature and the positive emotions that it evokes. 

According to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), “you don’t even need to be around plants or nature to develop your connection with the natural world. You could write a poem or short story about a time you were in nature or go through any photographs you have of a picturesque landscape or nature scene.”

For links to MHF research on the connection between nature and mental health click here.  

You may want to reflect on how you can spend more time with nature (either physically or through the power of the imagination)?

Are there little ways you can bring nature indoors?

Bryony Bennett

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