As I talked about in my last post, there are so many benefits to developing a closer connection to nature. It’s been shown to support wellbeing and it has numerous positive benefits for both physical and mental health. It also fosters pro-nature behaviours which is good for the planet and research that I conducted last year indicates it can also support feelings of generosity and altruism which can help both individual communities and wider society.
In these busy times when we’re often running from thing to the next, it can sometimes be difficult to prioritise nurturing this important connection to the natural world around us. It’s hard to set aside time to develop a conscious, intentional commitment to something as elusive and vague as ‘nature’. It can also feel like a step too far if you live and work in a city and can’t easily set off across fields and hills whenever the mood takes you. It may even feel as though it's something for people with more time on their hands or for the more dedicated earth mothers among us.
However, when we tune into it, the natural world is all around us and one simple, positive step you can take to improve your overall wellbeing is to adopt a mindset that’s open to noticing it. Making space for the possibility and potential of nature takes only minimal concerted effort and brings something to your life that doesn’t involve a lot of time or expense.
Below are five ways to develop a nature connection that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine, no matter if you live in the middle of a city or out in the countryside.
1) Look up at the sky
What's it doing? Is it moving or still? Is it calm or stormy? What colour is it? What sort of clouds are there? Keep track of how it changes from one day to the next. Observe the beauty of sunsets, clouds, rainbows and the patterns moving above your head.
2) Notice the seasons
Look around you and take in how the seasons develop and change. You can notice how the light changes at different times of the year, how any wildlife around you is affected by the seasons and how plants and trees are developing.
3) Choose a tree to be ‘your’ tree
Find a tree that you see regularly and keep your eye on it throughout the year. Notice when it’s in leaf, what the leaves look like, if it sheds its leaves, what its buds are like, whether it has any fruit and so on. You could photograph it once a week to build a picture diary over the course of several months. Consider how it survives the elements, provides shelter for birds and insects and is a landmark for people who pass by it.
4) How does the weather affect you?
British people are famously obsessed with the weather but tuning into how the weather affects you can be illuminating. Tuning into how a weather pattern changes throughout the course of a day or a week and developing an understanding of it will enable you to see if from a much wider perspective. You can also notice how the weather affects your mood and consider whether you more closely relate to different kinds of weather cycles. For example, do you have a ‘stormy’ personality or are you full of ‘blue skies and sunshine’? How do different types weather affect you? Does it influence your emotions?
5) Can you spot nature in any unexpected places?
I love how plants and animals can find the cracks in places and stealthily move in. I worked in London for several years and I used to see a large buddleia growing out of the roof of the Royal Opera House on my way to work every morning. I loved how it had found a comfy spot to seed itself and then grew into a big plant, on top of somewhere so slick and shiny. A tiny ecosystem supporting insects and birds high above us, unconcerned and unnoticed by the world around it. What unexpected life can you spot in your daily routine?
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at more ways to activate a nature connection and exploring why we need it now more than ever.
If you’d like to keep up to date with all my work, please sign up to my mailing list (and receive a free downloadable booklet for 5 Calming Days of Nature in return). I’d also love to hear your thoughts on nature connection so please either leave a comment below or get in touch directly.
How do you connect to nature when you're on the go?