Why nature is good for your mental wellbeing

Research shows that our relationship with nature — how much time we spend, how much we notice, think about and appreciate our natural surroundings — is vital for our mental health



By Delna Mistry Anand

Published: Thu 21 Apr 2022, 9:31 PM

“I like to play indoors better, ‘cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are”, Richard Louv quotes a character in his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Considering that the book was published in 2005, I can only wonder how much more dependent we’ve become on our devices now.

Research shows that our relationship with nature — how much time we spend, how much we notice, think about and appreciate our natural surroundings — is vital for our mental well-being. It says those who had access to open spaces were better able to cope with the gloom of the pandemic.

And what I found especially interesting is that even people simply noticing nature, have felt benefits. This is important, as it helps us to understand how deeply connected we are, and how important it is to rekindle this relationship. Just like in a friendship with someone, there is always something new to learn and enjoy about each other. And the more time we spend together, the better our connection, the stronger our vibe.

Here’s how to reconnect with Mother Nature and tap into her immense energy:

1 Soak in the sun

There’s nothing more comforting than stepping out for 10-15 minutes and soaking in some sun. Health benefits include a better mood, stronger brain function, lower blood pressure, stronger muscles, less inflammation, and greater prevention from heart disease.

2 Grounding or Earthing

This simply means walking barefoot on grass or sand, to experience the electromagnetic energy that the ground emits. Feel the texture of the earth touching your skin, and take a few mindful breaths. Visualise roots coming out from under your feet and going down to the core of Mother Earth, feeling her nurturing energy. Try this beautiful practice when you feel spaced out or overwhelmed.

3 Bring green in

Bring plants and flowers into your home or office to remind yourself of the deep connection with nature. Indoor plants offer health benefits and also purify the air you breathe, boost your mood, and even strengthen your creativity and productivity.

4 Deep connection

Spending time in nature instantly reduces stress and boosts our mood. Deepen your connection with the earth by hugging a tree. I mean it, drop the awkwardness, go to a tree, place your palms and your forehead on it and give it gratitude and love. See for yourself how you feel. Trees do have healing power, the Japanese swear by it and regularly practice ‘forest bathing’.

5 Visualise

And lastly, if you don’t have access to open spaces and nature, don’t despair. Bring it alive in your mind. Visualise. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and feel the softness of soil under your feet, smell the forest air, feel the warm sunshine on your skin, maybe few light raindrops, listen to the birds or rustling of the leaves and fully enjoy this experience.

Ralph Waldo Emerson claimed in his 1836 essay Nature, “In the woods,” he wrote, “I feel that nothing can befall me [. . .] which nature cannot repair.”

Remember our planet is alive, just as we are. The more we connect to the Earth’s energy, the more we can experience the well-being benefits that are naturally there for us whenever we need them. Happy Earth Day.

wknd@khaleejtimes.com

Connect with Delna Mistry Anand across social media @DelnaAnand


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