I have an ongoing love hate relationship with the city. I love the opportunities and abundance it provides but I hate the alienation and loss of connection to the natural world it produces. Over the years I have found that my own healing and wellbeing are intimately connected to our connection to the natural world. For me some of the greatest healing and alchemy I have experiences has come from playing in the mountains. There was something about being in nature, touching, smelling, using my body, seeing how natural rhythms unfolded that allowed me to move through anxiety and loss in ways that I just wasn't able to do in therapy or through my many other efforts.
For so many of us in the western world our modern lifestyle has us almost completely disconnected from our natural surroundings. We spend our days indoors looking at screens, we exercise in sterile gyms, we collect our food under fluorescent lit supermarkets. Our day to day lives have changed drastically over the past 50 years deepening our disconnection to our natural world.
A recent study from Stanford showed that people who walked in natural areas were at decreased risk for depression (see the study here.) This research is just the latest to show that when we reconnect with our natural world that we can experience powerful benefits to our mental health. For many of us we have a longing to be in nature and know that it would be good for us but we don’t exactly know what to do or how to experience it, especially those of us that live in cities.
Here are 5 simple ways that you can reconnect with nature in under an hour and the best part is they are all free and can even be done with small children! Choose one or better yet make a plan to try a new one each week! Be sure to share your experience with us on the Facebook Page so others can learn from you.
1. Create a Nature Installation
This is without a doubt my favourite thing to do outdoors! You can regularly catch me fiddling with sticks and rocks by a stream, trying to assemble them in a new and interesting way. A nature installation is a really fancy name for collecting natural objects and putting them together in a simple and beautiful way. You don’t have to go to a majestic setting, you can even begin in your backyard or a public park. When I am feeling stressed or disconnected from myself and the natural world creating an installations a chance to immediately reconnect with my creative self, physical sensations and feel like I am actually connecting with nature.
Begin by looking at the natural objects in the are. Perhaps there is grass, leaves, weeds, dirt , rocks. Gather a few of the objects that are appealing to you and begin assembling them in a new way.
Play around with stacking, balancing, making lines, shapes or explore natures colour pallet. Notice the textures, weights and sensations of each object.
Once you have assembled them in a way you think is beautiful take a few moments to enjoy your creation then snap a picture and make it your new screensaver or wallpaper.
If you want to deepen this experience bring a pen and paper with you and write a brief poem or story about the installation.