10 Exercises to Connect with Nature
Spending time outdoors allows you to rest and regain the energies of body and mind. Discover other benefits of connecting with nature, as well as the exercises you could do to achieve it.
Despite the fact that cities were created with the aim of making our lives easier, we can’t forget that human beings need to connect with nature. This is due, among other things, to the fact that urbanized environments don’t only generate negative emotions, but can also increase the chances of suffering from certain diseases and illnesses.
Nature, for its part, is presented as an ideal environment to rest the body and mind, as well as to recover its optimal energies.
By being exposed to these types of environments, it’s possible to reduce levels of stress, fatigue, and irritability, improve self-esteem, and stimulate the imagination. We invite you to discover 10 activities with which you can feel at one with nature.
The benefits of connecting with nature
There is scientific evidence that supports the benefits of spending time outdoors. Let’s see in detail what they are below:
- Relieves depression: a study published in Current Medicinal Chemistry showed that being in contact with nature can lower stress levels and improve sleep quality, both of which are factors related to depression.
- Aging with a lower risk of disease: A study of people in their 70s found that those who engaged in outdoor activities every day complained less of pain and other disorders associated with aging than those who led a sedentary lifestyle.
- Strengthens the immune system: a study with women conducted by the Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents revealed that those who spent around six hours in nature increased their defenses against viruses, noting that there was an increase in white blood cells.
10 activities to connect with nature
If not given the right approach, getting close to nature can end up becoming boring or complicated. Find out what exercises could help you achieve this.
1. Becoming aware of the need to connect
There is scientific evidence that enjoying a restorative environment, practicing an ecological sport, and doing activities that revolve around nature can have a positive impact on health.
For this reason and to avoid the so-called nature deficit syndrome, you must be aware of balancing your time in urbanized and natural environments.
2. Ask yourself questions to develop awareness
Although it sounds hard to believe, asking yourself questions to develop an awareness of your surroundings can enhance the experience and, of course, help you connect.
In that sense, the next time you go out for a walk, instead of looking at the ground, take the time to ask yourself things like:
- What are you observing right now?
- Which tree, plant, or animal catches your attention the most? Why?
- What are you listening to? The song of a bird? The sound of tree leaves? A nearby stream?
- Is there one area that’s greener than another?
- What do you smell? Flowers? Wet ground? The smell of wood?
In general, these questions seek to change perspective, direct attention to small details, and stimulate self-discovery, so that the connection with nature can be established.
3. Find a secret place
Finding a secret place is one of the easiest and most comforting activities you can do outdoors, as you will be able to observe, breathe and feel the plants that surround you. Sitting also increases your potential encounters with animals, which will further increase your connection to nature.
Now, according to a study published in Science Daily, walking or sitting for 20 to 30 minutes in a place that provides a feeling of nature, significantly reduces stress levels. In the same way, you can practice meditation techniques which can help you maximize these benefits.
4. Take a walk barefoot
As we have seen, getting in touch with nature can increase our connection with it, so if you find yourself in a terrain that allows it, walk barefoot and feel the earth, the grass, and the leaves of the trees.
Try to recognize things only with the soles of your feet and, although it may feel uncomfortable at first, give yourself the opportunity to experiment and develop new skills.
5. Hug a tree
Some people claim that hugging a tree makes them connect even more with nature and argue that it releases the accumulation of stress.
Although there’s still no scientific evidence to support these experiences, it’s believed that hugging or observing a tree in detail could favor the disconnection of normal patterns of consciousness and enable you to feel more connected to nature.
6. Grow a garden
Gardening is one of the best exercises to connect with nature. It’s considered an interactive and enriching activity, as you will have the opportunity to sow, care for, and water various types of plants, as well as to live with some insects.
Similarly, it’s an ideal activity for those who can’t often leave the city. You can start a garden in your backyard or even consider building an indoor garden.
7. Meditation of the senses
You have probably heard of mindfulness, which consists of concentrating all your senses and paying attention to what is surrounding you at that moment. It can certainly help you to calm your mind. How should you do it? Follow these simple steps:
- Take a few minutes to listen in detail to all the sounds of nature, and try to distinguish each one of them, the sound of each species of bird, the wind, the leaves of the trees, the insects, and even the sound of the road.
- Then, let the other senses take center stage, touch, sight, smell, and – why not – taste too. This allows you to relax completely and calm your mind.
It’s believed that, with continued practice, it becomes increasingly easier to reach mindfulness.
8. Visit different types of landscapes
For beginners, the natural environments may not vary much. However, a person who knows trees, flowers, and animals can spot the differences immediately.
With the idea of beginning to notice these differences, plan a walk with an expert in which they will have to go through different landscapes and discuss each one of them. In this way, you will never see natural environments in the same way again and you’ll increase your connection with the environment.
9. Build a bird feeder
Like gardening, building a bird feeder is an option for getting closer to nature if you can’t get out of town frequently.
In addition to developing observation and identification skills, getting a feeder and seeds also permits you to study bird behavior, be it migration, territorial disputes, among others.
The feeder could also attract other animals such as squirrels and cats. If you’re interested in connecting with nature, take a look at the way they behave.
10. Follow an animal
Whether it’s following a small insect or a squirrel, this activity will help you discover not only its behavior, but you’ll also experience a bit of fun by taking the role of scientist or detective for that moment. This exercise is ideal for amateurs.
You may be surprised by the organization and communication of ants, how squirrels treat each other, or how they eat their food. The observation method will allow you to connect with nature and disconnect from the daily problems of life for a few minutes.
Connecting with nature is always beneficial
Human beings mustn’t be completely isolated from nature, on the contrary, it’s extremely important that we immerse ourselves in it from time to time. Connecting with the environment provides many benefits, such as alleviating depression, reducing the diseases of old age, and strengthening the immune system.
Connecting in-depth with nature requires some practice, and so exercises such as taking a walk barefoot, practicing mindfulness meditation, following a squirrel, and having a secret place are just some of the many activities that will make you and nature become one.