Mental Health

16 ways to benefit from nature therapy for better wellbeing

There are few things better at lifting our mood than a wander in nature on a sunny day. In fact, science is beginning to show more and more just how beneficial being outside can be for our wellbeing. But, we don’t always have time (or the weather!) on our side.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make the most of nature, even when you only have five minutes to spare

How nature therapy can support our wellbeing

When you’re short on time

In truth, we all have the same amount of time in a day; it’s how and where we allocate it that determines what we’re able to accomplish during its elapse. But we all have days when it’s hard to find even a few minutes to spare. Here are some fast and easy ways to bring the outside in for those days when time is short.

  • Use natural light as much as possible, especially on sunny days.
  • Create several spaces for plants to live with you. Enjoy a community of succulents on a section of the counter, air plants suspended above your bed or a bouquet of fragrant eucalyptus during a hot shower.
  • When it rains, turn off the sound on your devices, crack a window open and listen to it fall.
  • Burn candles or incense with woody, floral and coastal scents.
  • Hang pictures or paintings of natural landscapes and use images from nature as screensavers or backgrounds.
  • Decorate with organic elements like shells, chopped wood, rocks, flowers, pinecones and cactuses.
  • Display fruits and vegetables in bowls made from clay, wood or stone.
When you live in the city

Urban living has many benefits, but it often separates us from nature, which can have negative effects on our emotional state. However, there are accessible places within urban areas to reconnect with Mother Earth.

  • Find a patch of grass or visit a local park and have a picnic.
  • Research bike paths to follow while you hunt for pet parks, public fountains and quiet places to take in scenic views.
  • Locate outdoor courts and fields to practise sport.
  • Take your coffee to go and meet friends for walks instead of sitting indoors.
  • When the weather’s nice, grill a meal outside.
  • Look for wildflowers along roads you take frequently and always keep an eye out for birds.

Other ideas for supporting our wellbeing with nature

Catching a sunset or sunrise

We often forget that the magic of sunrises and sunsets are ours for the taking twice a day. Of course, weather can play a deciding factor in our ability to enjoy their breathtaking visual features, but there’s always another day and the payoff of eventually catching one is immense.

Look up the time that the sun rises and sets near you. Once you’ve got an idea of the timetable, check the weather for ideal viewing conditions. Set an alarm for at least one hour prior so you have enough time to reach the beach, hillside, valley, open park or even a rooftop in the city and get settled before dusk or dawn take place. Allocate time to enjoy the changes in the atmosphere as the sun moves to and from the horizon.

Watch as the clouds take on different colours and stretch along the painted sky. How do you interpret their formations? What are some adjectives that come to mind? Being able to witness the day come to life or come to an end is one of those things that no poet or wordsmith can fully capture, but when it’s experienced in person, everyday stressors are momentarily washed away, only to be replaced by a spectrum of colours and shapes nature crafts with a passion.

Find out more about how morning sunlight can support our wellbeing

Making herbal water infusions

Staying hydrated is key for better health – we all know how much better we feel when we stay hydrated. One way to make hydrating an act of intention that brings the outside into your home is to use items in your garden as infusions for your drinking water. All you really need is a pitcher with a lid and some herbs or fruit.

Here are some infusion pairings to try for every 1.5 litres (2.5 pints) of water:

  • Cucumber and mint: 5–7 slices of cucumber, a handful of mint leaves.
  • Lemon and basil: Half of a sliced lemon (with seeds removed), a handful of basil leaves.
  • Orange and oregano: 1 small orange sliced, 1 long stem of fresh (not dried) oregano or marjoram.

Tip: Rinse items before placing them into the pitcher and change out your infusion every three days to keep it tasting fresh.

Seek out sunny spots

The sun plays a fundamental role in sustaining life on earth. It gives us light, is the centre of our planetary system and provides us with an unparalleled source of energy that is essentially irreplaceable.

In order to maximize your chances of catching some sun, even on days when you’re not able to get out to the beach or park, you can do things like opening the blinds, sitting outside on your balcony, deck or in your garden, or simply moving your desk so that it is near the window. You can also rearrange your furniture to better capture the recharging rays that the sun shines onto us.

Benefits of sunlight include:

Discover more ways that nature can support our wellbeing in Nature Therapy by Rémy Dabron, published by Vie, £14.99

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