In this increasing high-tech world, we all seem busier than ever, but according to Richard Louv, author of Vitamin N (vitaminn fornature.com), the more intense our lives become, the more nature we need.
A UK study found that exposure to nature helped to improve mood and increase self-esteem – and this effect was heightened in the presence of water, such as rivers, lakes or the ocean.
Richard says that the human costs of alienation from nature include diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses, child and adult obesity, and vitamin D deficiencies. Here are some easy ways to get back to nature right now to enrich the health and happiness of all...
- Have a picnic in the park
According to Richard, connecting with nature can be as simple as planning regular walks around a local park. It could be to go canoeing, bird-watching, camping or just having a picnic. His advice for the next family visit to the park? Encourage the kids to climb those trees – and even join them!
- Make sure you wade in water
If the weather is not the best for a swim in the ocean, pool or river, there is still opportunity to dip your toes in. Whenever possible, take off your shoes and plant your feet in nature, says naturopath Mim Beim (beamingwithhealth.com.au).
‘Wading at the water’s edge squelching sand between your toes, feeling the dew-wet grass underfoot at the local park or oval, or standing on a ledge of sun-warmed bushrock overlooking eucalypts will do the trick,’ she suggests.
- Start your own garden
According to Richard, no matter how small your space, there is the opportunity to get your hands dirty. It could be as small as having a couple of pot plants on the windowsill. ‘The greater the biodiversity, the greater the psychological benefits to people, and the more restorative to the environment,’ he says. In these days of urban apartment living, he thinks we need to go forward with nature. ‘We need to imagine a future that incorporates nature into every building and on every block – which serves to restore residents psychologically, physically, even spiritually.’
- Smell the roses
According to Mim, the sense of smell is the only sense to bypass the ‘thinking brain’ going directly to the primal amygdala, the seat of emotions. ‘Placing a posy of violets on your desk, an heirloom rose or a sprig of rosemary will unite you with nature,’ she says.
You might also like: