Do You Spend Time in Nature?
Spending time in nature helps reduce anxiety, bolster physical health, and improve mental health and wellbeing. Nature escapes can include sitting on a park bench, hiking trails, tilling a garden, and even camping.
But you don't have to escape to a park or campground to relax and recharge.
Studies show that even the smallest amount of nature like a single tree, a small patch of flowers, or even a house plant can generate benefits.
Homeschool Field Trips Were The Best
My boys and I loved homeschooling. I started homeschooling Justin in third grade when we lived in northern Virginia for a few years. After my other son's adoption from St. Petersburg, Russia at the age of 10, homeschooling became instrumental with Grigory's acclimation to his new family, new culture, and new language.
We spent the first year of Grigory's life as a U.S. Citizen going on all kinds of field trips. Some were organized with a large homeschool group we belonged to and some field trips were just the three of us.
From behind, Grigory and Justin looked alike, same height and blonde hair color (they were three months apart in age). I would joke around and call them Pete and Repeat. They were inseparable and became close brothers which warmed my heart.
Local and state parks became our daily adventures. We loved going on hikes, discovering animal trails, listening to singing birds and finding them in the trees, admiring pretty flowers, and playing in the streams. It was so nice and relaxing eating our lunch at the picnic tables under the trees.
Too Much Time Indoors Can Be Bad For Your Health
Spending a lot of time indoors in artificial settings can bring negativity and listlessness to your life. Studies show that when you feel less energetic, interacting with nature can make you feel better immediately.
Being around nature has a built in restorative element that helps reduce stress and regulate emotions.
Contact with sunlight provides immediate positive relief from stress, lowers blood pressure, and improves the immune system.
I'm ashamed to say that I have become a desk jockey these past 10 years spending long hours at my computer running my ex-husband's business. My body has been in the desk jockey position for so long that my posture and inflexibility shows it. I'm sure the past six years of dealing with breast cancer and heart issues before my heart transplant didn't help either.
My twin sister Lucy and I make fun of ourselves going outside and wondering what is that bright light in the sky. Whatever it is, it burns our flesh and hurts our eyes. Oh no! Have we turned into vampires??
Simple Ways To Get Back To Nature
You don't have to go too far to enjoy nature. You can enjoy nature in your yard, on your apartment patio, even inside your home.
I have a beautiful oil painting of a field of colorful flowers in front of a mountain that a family friend painted for me many years ago. When I'm feeling stressed, staring at this beautiful painting reminds me of our homeschool nature field trips which immediately brings a smile to my face.
1. Keeping houseplants around can make a big difference in your mood, your stress level, your sleep quality and even your breathing. Growing up, my mother had such a lovely green thumb and could grow anything, inside or outside. Unfortunately, I did not inherit her green thumb and could only grow ivy. However, I've been doing research on house plants and have decided to give it another try.
2. Start a vegetable and/or a flower garden. Whether you have a yard or only a patio or just a sunny windowsill, you can grow vegetables and flowers to enjoy. For smaller areas, container gardening is easy. Square foot gardening can be done anywhere because it doesn't depend on the soil in the ground. During our homeschool years, my boys each had a square foot garden in our backyard and would get excited each day to check the progress of what they planted. You can contact your county extension office about seasonal plantings.
3. Visit a local park near you. When you are out running errands, find a park near you to sit and read a book, drink some coffee, enjoy a simple picnic, or take a stroll. You can spare 15-20 minutes to break for fresh air and sunshine, right? This is a great way to get your daily dose of Vitamin D so your body can absorb calcium for strong bones.
4. Sit outside on your driveway or front porch and wave at your neighbors. One of my fondest childhood memories was visiting my grandparents' house in central Texas and sitting in the rocking chairs on their front porch watching the cars go by. I still recall the sweet scent of honeysuckle from the side flower garden. Nowadays my twin sister and I sit on our downstairs patio in the evenings making small talk with our neighbors walking their dogs around our apartment complex.
5. Plan a hike at a state or national park near you. This is one of the reasons why I want to buy a travel trailer, to camp and hike and visit as many state parks and national parks as possible. However, you don't have to camp to partake in hikes. My boys and I would go on day trips to nearby state parks to hike, swim, and have picnics. Happy memories. Now that I'm in my no-regrets second half of my life, I'm researching kayaking trips to take locally and around the state.
6. Experience virtual walks and hikes from around the world. Because of COVID, we have become a virtual society. Sometimes virtual is the next best thing if you can't get outside. Travel Earth has a plethora of virtual destinations and interests to peruse. How nice it would be to do in-home walking while watching a virtual hike on your tv. Or jump on your Peloton and go for a virtual ride in an exotic location.
7. Set up a bird feeding station. The Cornell Lab: All About Birds website has everything you want to know about birds and feeding them. You can buy special birdseed to attract certain birds or you can make your own. You can also make your own nectar to attract hummingbirds. When my boys were younger, we loved making homemade suet to hang from trees in our yard.
8. Plant a butterfly garden in your yard or in containers and watch the lifecycle of butterflies. A simple way of attracting butterflies is to fill a plate with fruit slices and watch them feed. The Monarch Butterfly Garden website has wonderful information. "Butterflies represent positive transformation and freedom. Some believe that butterflies are the souls of the dearly departed fluttering in to say hello, and that they miss you too!"
9. Watch nature documentaries online. When you can't get outside, the next best thing is to watch nature documentaries which can help you relax and reduce stress. However, I don't recommend watching a predatory animal documentary. Or snakes. Actually, underwater life is very soothing to me with colorful coral reefs and fish.
10. Virtually admire nature fine art at the National Gallery of Art. "The dynamic new virtual tour allows you to explore each room of the exhibition True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe, 1780–1870. Zoom in on the works, click on the different-colored dots to read wall texts, view higher-resolution photos, and see artist biographies. While available on mobile, this tour is best viewed on a desktop or tablet."
These are just a few ways to experience nature inside and out. Do you need to spend more time in nature and experience it's beauty and relaxation therapy? If so, which tips will you incorporate into your day or week? Are there other ways you enjoy nature?
Daily Mantra: Hunt the good stuff, find the humor, stay positive and focus on your blessings. God can bring good out of every situation!