The snow has thawed, the land suddenly looks green and the long, slow sunsets are here. It's almost as if you can't help but stop and pay attention: nature commands mindfulness.
Using nature or the outdoors in general can help us hone our mindfulness skills. If you've been coming to the Sunday Sessions over lock down one really effectiveness tool for winding down or becoming more mindful is tuning into the sense.
Sight - Catch that sunset, notice the buds on the trees, what birds can you see, are you at the beach, what has changed since the last tome you visited if it is a familiar place?
Sound - can you hear birds, is there more than one type of song?, what other noises are there, can you hear water, is there wind blowing through vegetation?
Touch - is the air warm or cool?, do you have shoes on or off?, can you gather items from your walk or trip?, is there sand, leaves, grass, trees?, are you undertaking physical work like gardening.
Smell - that first moment of smelling fresh air when you step out in the morning, that smell of the earth after it rains, see air, summer flowers, winter snow.
Taste - is stored in the same region of the brain as early memories and certain tastes can reduce cortisol (the stress hormone).
Image: Andrea De Santis, unsplash.
Being in nature has been shown to help us think more clearly, it can help you restore your mental energy if you have been solving a problem and the benefits of being in nature have been shown to have similar benefits as mindful meditation. It can also boost your creativity and help you find another way around a problem.
Not only are there mental benefits to being outdoors but there are great benefits to your physical health too. Research has indicated that 120mins per week of outdoor exposure is the key and benefits start to tail off around 300 mins. You can be out for one big chunk of time or split it up (i.e. walking to work or at lunch time).
Living close to a greener environment can support many health outcomes improving self-reported well-being scores, reducing rates of heart disease, hospitalisation from asthma, support cognitive development in children, improve birth outcomes and general health.
The great news is that you might not have to do anything when you get there either. Even just immersing yourself in the natural environment may well be enough to improve your health and wellbeing.
If found a fascinating podcast series below on the nature and why we may be drawn to it. The whole website is full of great resources too.