“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put together.” – John Burroughs
Many of us experience stress, anxiety and depression from time to time but for some of us our low or anxious mood stays with us longer than we would like them to. Building strategies into your daily life to combat these moods will help you feel better about yourself and others.
One really easy, effective and cheap strategy to beat your low or anxious feelings are to go outside and let nature heal and nurture you. When I’m feeling I need a boost to my mood I know that taking my dog out for a walk will often be enough to lift me and help me feel more positive.
But, I hear you cry, I don’t have a dog!! Never mind, there are plenty of other ways to boost your mood, enjoy nature and the outside world. Continue reading and discover how being in and around nature can benefit you.
Nature is a wonderful thing
Surrounding yourself in nature is a great way to ground yourself in the present. It’s doesn’t matter what the season, be it summer, spring, winter or autumn or whether we’re having a heatwave or downpour, where in the world you are, what you’re doing or how you are feeling – being in a natural environment can be so beneficial to your mental health.
Nature – is an amazing mood booster
- Improve your mental health
- Benefit you when you’re trying to combat the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Help you feel more positive about your life
Still and peaceful v invigorating and uplifting
Being in the stillness of your natural surroundings can help you pause, take a breath and help you remember there’s more to life than the worries that constantly plague you.
Being close to the sea when the waves are crashing against the beach in stormy weather can be invigorating and uplifting. This can feel like the wind is blowing your troubles away.
Improve your mood and lift your spirits
Walking in nature provides gentle exercise, and the benefits of exercise are very well known to lift your spirit. Being in the open air with the warmth of the sun on your face and body will increase your intake of Vitamin D (also known as the ‘Sunshine Vitamin’) which also helps improve your mood and don’t forget that any exercise taken in the fresh air whether it’s walking, running or cycling is free – what’s not to like about that!!
Whenever your life feels bleak and grey, seeing the vibrant colours of the flora and fauna found in an outside space is also a wonderful reminder of growth and new life which reminds us that life and nature never stands still – watching the seasons come and go tells us there is always new hope and that everything can, and will change.
It’s not just about what you see – use all your senses
How about listening to the symphony of birdsong that surrounds you. From a tuneful sparrow, blackbird or robin through to a squawking seagull – their songs are a much more preferable soundtrack than your ruminating thoughts, which if not kept in check can bring your mood crashing down.
Brush your hands through some tall grasses and feel the sensation as it passes through your hands or breathe in the fragrance of a freshly mowed lawn, flowers or a forest of pine trees.
Don’t forget taste – visit a ‘pick your own’ farm and tasting the produce directly from the earth or sit with a picnic in your garden or in the park or how about a BBQ. Food often tastes so much better when eaten outside!!
Above all, take your time to appreciate the nature around you – it will help reduce your stress and anxiety and lift your mood. So whether you live in a city centre, on the coast or in the countryside, there’s always a green or natural space that you can visit to increase your connection with nature.
5 simple ways to increase your connection with nature:
- Go for a walk in the woods, on the beach, to your local park…anywhere that has green or natural spaces. If you’re feeling lonely or isolated, joining a local walking group will also open up opportunities to talk and make new friends whilst taking in and enjoying the scenery.
- If possible, visit a quiet viewpoint and sit for a while. What can you see? What can you hear? If you use all your senses you may notice new things that you have may have previously missed
- Visit gardens or garden centres simply to enjoy the displays of the colourful blooms and benefit from the wonderful scents that fill the air.
- Spend time in your garden – play with your children or grandchildren, weed the borders, sit with a cup of tea, read, write, listen to music or the Archers, watch your clothes drying on the washing line. It doesn’t matter what you do but do whatever relaxes and chills you.
- Get to know your wildlife – whether that’s birds, plants, animals or fish. Being able to recognise and name the wildlife around you by their appearance, sounds and fragrances can only enhance your outside experiences.
You don’t have a garden? Then bring the outside inside
If you don’t have access to a garden or you find it difficult to go outside, there are still plenty of ways to connect with nature and bring the outside in:
- Houseplants provide just the same mental-health benefits as plants that grow outside and they help purify air inside your home
- A vase of cut flowers immediately bring colour and fragrance to your home and arranging them has the added benefit of being a wonderful mindful activity
- Planting a window box filled with colourful flowers or even salad vegetables can be both pleasing to the eye and rewarding
- Sitting by a window, being close to natural light and having a view of the outside can be as good as being outside. Why not keep a pair of binoculars on the window sill to look for birds, bees and butterflies?
- Set up bird-feeders within sight of your window – the birds, and possibly other animals, will visit your garden and keep you company throughout the day
- Help bring a sense of calm to your living space by decorating in natural colours and adding the odd botanical print here and there.
Make time – just 10 minutes a day
There is a million and one ways to enjoy nature and the outside world, far more than I can even think of, and you will have your own favourite things to do.
Whatever you choose to do, remember that just 10 minutes spent outside in a natural environment will contribute to your physical wellbeing – it will reduce your blood pressure, heart rate and tension and will have a positive effect on your mood for the rest of the day. So even if you’re short of time, it will really benefit your mood to make time for a 10 minute break and make the most of the natural world around you.
“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”
William Wordsworth, Daffodils
Do you need some help reducing your feelings of stress, anxiety or depression?
This is where I work and where I help people reduce their feelings of stress, anxiety and depression – it’s very peaceful and a perfect space to explore your thoughts and feelings.
If you would like help to reduce your stress, anxiety or depression and boost your mood please click this link – Home
Or contact me now – click here Contact