Nature is something I feel has significantly been impactful for my own wellbeing. A report in the Scientific Reports suggests that 120 minutes outside in nature is associated with having good health, both mental and physical.
Walking for me has been incredibly calming. I tend to listen to something, and I actually hold back from listening to said medium (whether that be podcast, audiobook, or music) until I go on a walk. I take my time so that I don’t rush and can breathe and become present. However, of course, on busier days I would shorten the walk, so I can still take my time.
I never appreciated living in the countryside as beneficial until lockdown. I hated the uneventful, boring town I lived in. I associated it with bad memories. However, nature helped me redefine my home town, as not this place of sadness, but instead somewhere to reflect, somewhere tranquil and often breath taking.
I live, near the Ashdown Forest, a fantastic place to explore. Beautiful views, streams, animals, and miles of paths. I am incredibly fortunate. Though, even taking a walk through a city park has helped me. I remember walking through little Venice in London, and the same appreciative feeling of life is gained. But, for me, the fresher the air, the more animals or natural beauty I can see, the better!
For me, bad experiences formed a negative filter over life. I felt disattached from the now. I thought for a long time like I was daydreaming through life. I felt life was cruel and wicked, which it certainly can be. Nature, for me, is grounding, however, as it is the default. Nature is hostile, harsh, unfair, and sometimes evil. Yet simultaneously, nature is purpose-filled, intelligent and awe-inspiring. Nature, is reality and I think that’s beautiful, in it’s most purest form.
There are still things I need to experience within nature, for example, a sunrise. Early mornings may seem daunting, but in actuality are an excellent way to start to the day and always leaves me with extra time. Time to fill with something, maybe that book, hobby or skill you have been putting off or maybe just time to plan your day.
That being said, watching a sunset might be as beneficial, planning it like a significant event. For me, it gave me something to look forward to. Going on a walk was not just associated with the activity, which on a cold day can be particularly daunting. It was associated with the view or the podcast episode!
Another thing I got into was actually very much accidental. I was reading about The Iceman, Wim Hof in the book, What Does Not Kill Us. At the time, it was about -4, and I set myself the challenge of going out into the cold and slowly reducing the layers of clothing I wear until I was in shorts and a t-shirt, while practising Wim Hof’s methods. This, in toe, gave me more reason to go out into nature!
After it had warmed up and I was over the hype of Wim Hof, I found my dad’s old camera and just took it with me! Although I never got the photos processed, it again gave me a new hobby to get out most days! I would go out when the winter sunset is harsh, and the colours are vibrant. I would write, take pictures, or just listen to the birds and the breeze. Even when it was still, having that moment of utter silence, for me, was and is welcome, as a time to look and as Wordsworth said, “see into the life of things.” (*I am a literature student, so I could not resist).
The things I have learned from nature are numerous. I see myself as incredibly fortunate for having the opportunity to experience it. I hope some of the things I have spoken about help someone else who needs a hand! Sometimes that hand can be right on your doorstep, down the next street or around the next corner!
Thank you for reading. I would love to hear about your experiences with nature.