Five Proven and Useful Ways to befriend nature to elevate happiness and wellbeing.
By Simer Dhume
Nature improves Mental Health? Yes, Psychologists unequivocal seek nature for treating Mood disorders like stress, anxiety, and depression.
A fact, if sheltering indoors in the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the outdoors’ out-scaled importance. A 45 minute morning walk in the North Woods in Central Park is essential to my everyday routine. It instantly uplifts my mood and gives me an energy boost for the rest of the day. It doesn’t matter anymore if it’s grey and gloomy outside or if the workday is long and hectic. What makes my walks even more special nowadays is the companionship of my 15-month-old daughter.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of Harvard’s most celebrated graduates, in his book ‘Nature’ (1836), emphasizes the beauty of nature.
He further puts it, “Nature is valuable, and therefore, nature is beautiful.” It is alive, moving, reproductive. In nature, we observe growth and development in living things. In contrast with the static or deteriorating state of the vast majority of which is man-made.
Nature’s secret: intrinsic and intelligent.
Therefore, living in harmony with nature has been an integral part of all human civilizations. Our interactions with the beauty of nature can profoundly affect our social behavior physical and mental well-being. Seeking the outside gateways in return nourishes our inner beings.
Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as reported in Harvard Health Publishing. In a 2015 study, researchers compared the brain activity of healthy people after they walked for 90 minutes in either a natural setting or an urban one.
What did they find?
They found that those who did a nature walk had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region active during rumination — defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.
But sometimes life gets busy, commitments take over, or possibly you aren’t much of an outdoor person. To help you reap mighty benefits of nature for healthy mental health.
Hints Of Life shares “Five Proven and Useful Ways to befriend nature to elevate happiness and wellbeing.“
1. Engage in the Act of Gazing Out:
An easy and essential morning ritual, I look out my window at the beautiful sunrise while sipping my tea. Watching the sunrise brings positivity, hope, and calmness to my day. It inspires new ideas and enhances my creativity. Sunlight is the purest gold found on earth. It brings beauty and delight to everything it touches.
The act of gazing out, looking up at a tree or the gorgeous blue sky, or the wide-open natural space is soothing and calming. Spending a few minutes of your day gazing into the natural space has many physiological and psychological benefits. For instance, looking at natural light is good for your eyes. Breathing the fresh air can improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
While watching the sunrise, I practice mindfulness. With my eyes focused on the golden rays, I express gratitude to Sun God for being the source of life on this planet. Giving thanks for enriching my life every day.
Research shows engaging with nature in any form is good for the mind and body. It’s a great source of joy and works as an antidepressant.
2. Nature improves mental health. Take a walk in the woods/ forest bathing
Somedays, I like walking in the Ramble at Central Park. My meditative haven is the lush woodland composed of 38 acres of winding pathways. Strolling among its abundant flora and fauna is peaceful. In Spring, listening to the humming of the migratory birds is the best music to my soul. It’s soothing and calming.
On my recent forest bathing walk in the ramble, I hugged a Black Tupelo tree for a few minutes, taking in slow, controlled breathes, giving thanks for this moment, this opportunity to be in the company of nature. It’s crucial to note
Important to note
For a more structured experience, you can join trained guides for a meditative two- to three-hour ecotherapy excursion. For me, nature improves my mental health every day.
After years of careful study, Japanese medical doctor and researcher Qing Li has found that spending time in a forest can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and anger, strengthen the immune system, improve cardiovascular and metabolic health, and boost overall well-being.
Read Li’s book Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness for in-depth access to the science of Forest Bathing.
3. Bring nature into your home
The idea that humans are viscerally wired to feel a communion with the natural world has shifted from a hypothesis espoused by the biologist Edward O. Wilson and others to the emergence of urban beekeeping, increasingly diverse city gardens. Wild ideas for residences and workplaces, says author Sally Coulthard, an interior designer and writer based in North Yorkshire, England.
Nature improves mental health. Creating green spaces in our home is remedial.
It is proven to have psychological and physical impacts on our lives and day-to-day activities. Living in a small apartment in the city, I love bringing home fresh flowers every morning from the supermarket. As the fragrance fills the apartment, it nourishes my soul and helps me start my day on a positive note. Here are a few creative ideas to bring nature into your home.
Though having a balcony or a patio can be a luxury in big cities, it’s the best place for a thriving indoor green space if you’re lucky to have one.
Your balcony is a space with enough light and ventilation, making it easier for plants to thrive. Adding in a lot of plants along with your coffee table and easy chairs makes it a place you’d want to spend most of your time. With glazed doors, you could make your balcony visible to other parts of your home, which will make them look like a ‘functional green décor.
Fill the indoors with house plants–
- House plants are possibly the easiest way of bringing nature into your home. Ferns, succulents, cacti, orchids, aloes, and many other plants and flowers thrive indoors with some attention, enabling you to breathe life into any room.
- In addition to being an attractive form of decoration, house plants also positively affect your health because they help reduce stress and anxiety while removing toxins from the air you breathe.
Add a splendid nature wall mural–
- Wall murals instantly transform your space, allowing you to create an eye-catching feature wall in any room. Nature-themed wall murals are available in a vast selection of different categories. You might choose photographs of trees and forests, flowers, mountains, wildlife, or the ocean.
- An enjoyable alternative is to use your favorite nature photograph and create a custom design. Then, paint the rest of your room with matching earth tones to create a finished look for your natural theme.
Grow healthy herbs in your kitchen–
- Using delicious homegrown herbs and spices in your cooking improves your meals nutritionally, but that’s not all. They are also a unique and attractive feature in your kitchen when displayed correctly. Moreover, they also spread lovely aromas throughout the room.
- Add shallow shelves to a bare wall in your kitchen or several potted containers on a counter to grow and display your herbs for a great feature piece. Or, for convenience and interest, place herb plants in between your wine in a sunken rack.
Make the most out of natural light–
- Natural light in your home is an excellent way to create a bright and cheerful atmosphere. While natural light is plentiful during the warmer seasons, it is essential to bring natural light into your home during the darker, colder weather.
To make the most out of your natural lighting, here are a few easy DIY tips:
- Keep your windows clean and bright and pull the drapes open every morning.
- Place mirrors strategically around your home to reflect the natural light around the entire room.
- Pull your furniture out and away from windows to allow them to shine through with the greatest amount of light.
You will relate when gardening is therapy if you are an avid gardener or garden lover. The assessment might be more accurate than you think. Gardening improves physical health and produces nutritious homegrown goodies, but its therapeutic benefits extend beyond that. From relaxation and stress relief to formal therapist-directed programs, mental and emotional wellbeing get welcome boosts along the garden path.
Interacting with nature, even in the simple act of viewing trees or visiting garden-like settings, can have a dramatic therapeutic effect on one’s wellbeing. My biggest stress-buster is visiting the Conservatory Garden in Central Park. Breathing the sweet fragrance of dozens and dozens of flowers year-round is a bliss that I cherish sincerely and wholeheartedly.
How to Get Started?
Ready to start a garden of your own? Here are six simple steps for beginners.
- The best way to do this is to get started, even though you don’t know how it’s going to go or exactly what you’re doing. The worst that will happen is you’ll learn something. And that’s worth the price of a plant, every time.
- Though it’s easy to get excited when starting out and plant too much, which ends up being hard to keep up with. As a result, you could end up feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. So get started, but don’t overdo it. You can always add new plants to your garden over time. A simple first step is to grow something in a container that you can put close to your house, so it’s easy to take care of and enjoy seeing every day.
Focus on healthy soil–
- Successful gardening starts literally from the ground up, recommends Psychology Today, in the article “10 Mental Health Benefits of Gardening.” Soil is life. When you focus on that, good things happen.” Gardeners must avoid synthetic chemicals and feed the soil with organic compost, like shredded leaves, shredded bark, or aged manure.
Grow what you like–
- Choose fruits and vegetables that you would like to eat or plants you enjoy looking at. Grow something easy and proliferates, like a radish, lettuce, or seasonal flowers. The ease and quick reward will be motivated you to stick with it.
Know your plant’s needs–
- Research well in advance about the plant before you stick it in the ground. Knowledge is power. Read the plant tag so you know if it likes sun or shade and wet or dry, and do your best to give it the environment it wants to thrive in. After all, plants can’t move, so it’s up to us. Put the right plant in the right place. Your plants will reward you for it.
Pay attention to your plants–
- Spend at least a little time observing what’s happening in your garden every day. That way, you can be proactive when problems arise and circumvent potentially more significant problems. Besides, spending time in your garden is the best remedy for stress and other physical and mental illnesses. It can also be a great cardiovascular workout as you shovel, walk in your garden, and tend to your plants.
5. Nurturing and taking care of your plants
Like outdoor garden settings, viewing green plants in indoor living spaces is proven to lift your spirits and your sense of wellbeing. But the benefits of caring for a living plant, even a single houseplant, transcend green views. Studies show that caring for a plant has particular value for people facing challenging personal circumstances beyond their control that negatively affect physical and emotional health.
Indoor gardening has also been shown to reduce agitation and improve sleep and awareness in dementia patients. Feeling needed and in control of a plant’s well-being also improves the caretaker’s well-being. An unparalleled joy.
Lastly, I hope you find the content helpful and apply it in your everyday life to improve your mental health.
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