Everyone gets a little down from time to time, but Nature is one of the best mood boosters available. The beauty of our surroundings can help us feel happy and whole again.
Using all our senses is key to enjoying all nature has to offer.
- Smell: What plants do you smell? Can you smell the moist soil, and freshly mown grass?
- Sight: What do you see? Stare into the sky and watch the trees riffled by the wind. Look carefully as an insect moves across the soil.
- Touch: SIT on the ground, touch the soil. Feel the soft texture of a leaf or petal.
- Hear: Listen to the many sounds of the wild. How many different varieties of birds do you hear?
- Taste: the drops of rain or snow as they land on your tongue. Or, my favorite, taste the nectar from honeysuckle blossoms.
Live in a city? If you feel like you’re surrounded by concrete and glass, it can be hard to feel nature is close by. But nature resides everywhere, even amidst the concrete and glass. Look down and notice the blades of grass pushing up between the sidewalk and your bench. Notice the ant struggling with a bit of leaf. Feel the breeze on your face, hear the city birds.
Savor your experiences to draw from later.
There are many ways to harness the restorative power of nature. Visualization is a powerful method to use and allows us to store a reservoir of relaxing memories that can be called upon at any time to restore that peaceful feeling.
- Sit near a body of water, such as a river, stream, lake, or ocean.
- Take time in a city park or other green, grassy area where it’s cool and calm.
- Listen to birds or lapping waves in person or on a CD if you don’t have water nearby.
- Make time for something in nature each and every day.
- Journal outside! Record what your senses are picking up.
- Take a forest bath! Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” Not really a bath, but a slow walk using all your sense, as you explore all the forest has to offer. http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html
Now that we’ve collected our experiences, visualizing ourselves out in nature, even when we can’t be there is now at our fingertips. Just a few minutes is all it takes. If you can find a quiet spot for visualizing, that’s great, but if not, close your eyes and don your headphones. Now remember your special place through you five senses to bring it back in a very visceral way―how it looks, smells, feels, its special sounds, and even how it tastes.
When anxiety strikes, thinking about our favorite place in nature can make us feel safe again. As we visualize our happy-nature-place, and we hear and see it in our mind’s eye, our body actually can believe we’re smelling the ocean’s salty spray or the just-cut grass. Suddenly we’re more relaxed, and this good mood will stay with us instead of being lost in an ocean of hurry and busyness.
No matter the worry, big or small, nature can help improve our mood and help us gain peace.
NOW we can choose to feel nature anywhere.