When was the last time you hung out in nature and felt bad? Like, um, NEVER?
It’s near impossible to feel crap in the wilderness (unless you happen to get stuck up a cliff-face without a rope). Nature’s a place where we can unwind, leave the hectic city behind, and get back to basics. It makes us feels good.
In fact, connecting with the ‘wild’, even for a short time in an urban patch of bushland, has been proven to make us healthier and happier. There’s a growing body of evidence which shows that nature is actually even necessary for our overall wellbeing.
It’s no wonder why, in a recent community survey, you guys said that ‘love for nature’ is a top reason for living in this area. Clifftop walks and jaw-dropping ocean views are hard to beat in this neck of the woods…
Benefits from time spent in nature are hard to ignore:
- Improves memory and mood
- Improves mental and physical health
- Enhances focus
- Builds community and family bonds
- Supports creativity and problem solving
- Helps sick people get better faster
- Reduces disruptive behaviour
- Relieves stress and reduces anxiety
With the digital age (read: ever-stuck to our devices) and projections that 66 per cent of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050, there’s even more reason to intentionally switch off and go bush from time to time.
How? We could take some tips from the increasingly popular ‘forest bathing’ in Japan, or shinrin-yoku, by mindfully connecting with nature through our senses.
As eco philosopher David Abram writes: “The senses are what is most wild in us. Apart from breathing and eating, the senses are our most intimate link with the living land, the primary way that the earth has of influencing our mood and guiding our actions.“
As Council’s Urban Ecology Coordinator Sus Stevens says, “To really get the full benefits, we need to fully experience whatever is out there.”
So next time you are out and about, give this mindful practice a go:
- Switch off the phone and stash it in your pocket (if you can’t leave it at home).
- Make it your intention to observe how you feel.
- Touch the soft beach sand, leaves, rocks, bark, sit down on the grass. Take off your shoes to feel the earth under your feet and toes.
- Feel the breeze and sun on your skin.
- Look around - at the flowers (wattles are in bloom), blue sky, ocean, plants and whales.
- Listen to the crunching of dry leaves under your feet, the birds singing, and the wind in the trees. Try periods of silence on longer walks with friends.
- Taste the salty air coming off of the ocean.
- Smell the flowers, the air after first rain.
- Take your time…
- And breathe…
- To let it all in.
With all this goodness to experience, let’s make getting back to nature second nature.