Nature Nourishes the Mind
Savannah Hughes, BA
“Lost is a lovely place to find yourself.” - Michael Faudet
Step outside to your free therapy session. The outdoors is so much more than a space to explore and enjoy fun activities; it is an oasis
that can open our minds to new levels of healing. Nature increases our wellbeing by decreasing stress levels, and increasing our satisfaction with life. Taking time to get outside each day can increase mindfulness often resulting in an increased mood. You do not need an adventure partner to take on the trails or dive into the deep blue ocean. Time spent outside in solitude allows us to connect with ourselves and experience emotions that may have been silenced within our to-do lists and weekly schedules.
Since technology has been our main source of communication this past year; we have been glued to our devices - constantly checking
our phones or opening our laptops. These addictive behaviors can
lead to negative habits of scrolling through our social media feeds. In result, it can lead us down the road of comparison that can make us feel even more isolated and alone than we did before we unlocked our phones.
Nature does not require cell phones or WiFi to connect to the true beauty of the world. You can show up exactly as you are, which is enough. The outdoors accepts each individual as they step foot on the trails or brush their toes along the ocean floor. The sense of freedom felt in the outdoors can bring peace to our anxious thoughts. Finding ways to get outside each day can not only increase our physical health but also our mental health.
Here is a List of 10 FREE Ways to Step Outside and Connect with Nature:
- Mindful Walk or Bike Ride - Stroll through your local streets or ride your bike to get a cup of morning coffee instead of jumping in your car. Pay attention to the sounds, scents, thoughts and emotions that are present during your walk.
- Picnics - Pack a lunch or grab a sweet treat with friends and eat it outside. Sitting by the water or in the grass allows for one to be present while eating their meal without distractions.
- Exercising Outside (rollerblading, running, etc.) - Switch up working out inside - it allows you to soak up the benefits of Vitamin D while breaking a sweat.
- Meditating to the Sounds of Nature - Sit in a comfortable position or lie down in the grass and gently rest your eyes. Become aware of your surroundings. What do you hear? What do you smell? Notice the feeling of the grass or sand between your toes. Listening to a guided meditation can be helpful.
- Hiking a New Trail - Google local trails in your area and ask a friend or family member to explore it together. Switching up trails can be a fun way to keep your adventurous spirit alive!
- Yoga on the Beach - Place a towel or a mat down and start stretching. Listen to the soothing sounds of the waves. Let the ocean breeze cool you down as you switch positions and stand strong in your warrior pose.
- Surfing - Even if you have never been on a surfboard before or if you have been surfing since you can remember; challenge yourself to have FUN with it. Ask a friend to join or grab a board and head to the sea.
- Swimming or Floating in the Ocean - Lying on your back with your arms by your side or stretching them out wide - allow yourself to be still. Listening to the ocean and feeling the temperature of the water on your skin.
- Hit the Beach - Pack your favorite beach games, refreshing snacks, a good book and hit the beach! While you are there, go on a walk along the shoreline and observe the landscape or breathe in the salty air.
- Watching the Sunrise or Sunset - Start your day by stepping outside to see the sunrise and listen to the birds chirping. Try setting your intentions for the day and list 3 things you are grateful for in that present moment. End your day by letting go of any worries or anxious thoughts that might be lingering from earlier in the day as you watch the sun dip below the horizon.
7 Psychological Benefits of Getting Outside:
- “Mindfully being in nature can inspire a sense of awe which can make worries seem smaller.” - Lindsey Cieslak, AMFT, GTSD Clinician.
- Exploring a new place can inspire and boost creativity.
- “Improvement in memory and increased ability to focus.” - Ashley Fecteau, LCSW, GTSD Clinician.
- “Increasing exposure to natural sunlight helps the circadian rhythm, which can improve sleep.” - Katie Brooks, LCSW, Clinical Director of GTSD.
- One may experience increased self-awareness and overall mood after being outside.
- Spending time outside can reduce cortisol, a stress hormone.
- Reduction in chronic depression, headaches, or irritability and anxiety has been linked to spending time outside.
Please visit goodtherapysandiego.com or contact us at (619) 330-9500 to get started with a therapist today!