7 Ways to Heal in Nature on Earth Day for Amazing Health Benefits
7 minute read
This April 22nd will mark the 49th Earth Day celebration, the global event aimed at raising awareness of environmental issues. It’s a perfect day to get outside with family and friends.
Considering Earth Day is also close to the beginning of spring when winter blues have us feeling down, trapped, and isolated. Many of us already know how vital sunlight and being outside can be. For people who move beyond the winter blues into seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the effects of being in nature become even more important and restorative.
Taking a vacation and lying on the beach, hiking through the mountains, or forest bathing in Japan are not always options. Even if you’re lucky enough to get away on vacation, that boost will wear off if you return to seclusion in your concrete jungle with a constant view of screens.
Healing in nature doesn’t need to be an elaborate adventure. It’s best if you learn how to do it regularly so you can rejuvenate and reap the rewards of Mother Nature more frequently.
1. Change Your Approach
The first step toward appreciating nature and benefiting from being in and around it is to adjust your attitude. Being surrounded by nature is incredible, and fills us with awe and appreciation.
However, you don’t have to be overwhelmed to find beauty, and sometimes the most awe-inspiring things are tiny. Imagine a perfect snowflake, with it’s a unique and intricate structure, floating through the air to land gently on your gloved hand.
Begin your journey by opening your eyes to the little things as well as the larger ones that surround you and taking note of them. Be mindful in your appreciation. Once you’re ready to do that, the following tips can bring nature therapy into your daily life.
2. Enjoy Lunch Outside
Take a much-needed break from your workday and get outside. Find a spot that speaks to you with its natural vibe, and enjoy your meal while appreciating the environment.
Focus on one bit of nature and absorb as much of it as you can. Is there a scent, a sound, or a feel? The rustling of a breeze through a tree’s leaves has a sound, you can feel the breeze on your skin, and it may stir up the fresh smell of the tree. Be as much a part of the moment as you can.
3. Go for a Nature Walk
This may feel obvious but going for a walk can reinvigorate you and refresh your sense of well-being. Of course, exercise is also good for your body.
The key is to step out of the monotony of your day and begin to focus on nature. Have you noticed that tree before? What kind is it? What animals live in and around it.
Become friendly with your non-human neighbors and learn more about the world they live in. You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn, just by paying attention.
4. Start a Green Exercise Program
Take that walk in nature a step further and begin a green exercise program. Green exercise is the act of exercising while surrounded by nature. It can be a simple hike, or it can be something more involved, like yoga in the park.
Studies have proven that there are positive short- and long-term health benefits from acute exposure to green exercise. Every environment showed improvements in mood and self-esteem, but the presence of water seemed to intensify the effects.
5. Start Gardening
There's no better way to experience nature than to get elbows-deep in the dirt. There are a wide variety of health benefits from gardening, but one of the most interesting and most impactful is our improved mental health.
Research is pouring in, proving what our ancestors already knew, growing things boosts your mood in many different ways. In addition to mentally connecting you to the world around you, it can require some physical exertion, which is also a proven mood elevator.
Apartment and city dwellers can still get in on the benefits of gardening. Small container gardens or indoor herb plants are an excellent way to start. There are also community gardens that not only offer a place to plant, but you can often get involved in community food outreach programs, too.
Take it a step further, combine art therapy with gardening and take up bonsai. Bonsai is a proven way to improve health and well-being. It’s also a great hobby that makes a beautiful addition to your home decor.
6. Go Barefoot
The science of earthing or grounding refers to reconnecting to the earth’s electrons, the positive transfer directly from the ground into the body. It may sound far-fetched, but there is research that proves the beneficial connection between human contact with the ground.
Try going for a walk barefoot and see if that lifts your mood and makes you feel more connected. Alternatively, lie in the park under a tree and take a moment to enjoy the world around you.
7. Smell the Roses
The old adage about taking a minute to smell the roses has more value than you may have ever realized. Yes, it’s about stopping to appreciate nature and the beauty that surrounds you; however, the act of smelling roses might do more for your mood than you may expect.
Diving deeper into the effects of scent on the brain, one study found that there is a direct connection between alpha waves and aroma. What this means is that, even if you’re trapped in a cubicle during your workday, you can incorporate some nature therapy by using essential botanical oils to prompt an alpha wave response to boost your mood or relax you.
The Bottom Line
The healing benefits of nature are all around you if you know where to look. Sometimes it may take a little effort—finding the right spot, bringing plants into your home, or even taking off your shoes. Other times, it’s been there all along, you just need to know how and when to look for it.
The effects of green healing are different for each person. Some people feel an immediate sense of well-being and a lifted mood. Others take a little more time and effort to get the benefit, but it appears as if everyone can benefit from some green stimulation.