I want to take a moment to write about a topic that is very important to me and also very important to my overall well-being. The topic of this post is self-care through nature connection. I’ll be the first one to admit that the current state of the daily grind and busy-ness many of us balance makes nature connection seem like an afterthought some days. I often find myself waking up and spending the first couple minutes of my day scrolling through social media, checking emails, or getting lost in a web of YouTube videos on animals and humans doing funny things (which is entertaining, nonetheless). I usually feel lethargic and less motivated the more time I spend on computers and glued to my phone. If I were to add up the amount of time I spend on screens each day, I would be shocked I’m sure. I share this to let you know I totally get that it can feel hard to allow nature to be a part of our daily self-care.
As an avid adventurer and former wilderness therapy field guide, my connection to nature and awareness of non-human relationships (trees, dogs, birds, squirrels, etc.) serves as a vital ingredient of my happiness. It’s apparent to me how much better I feel after I go for a walk around my neighborhood, drive to a trailhead, or simply just sit in my backyard for my morning coffee or tea. Being able to connect to my senses and bring awareness to the present moment acts as a reset for me to check in with myself and take my daily emotional-temperature.
So what are four simple antidotes for the daily grind of a busy life?
1. Push pause. Stop to look at the trees, start your morning by walking outside and listening to the birds, slow down, and just simply take five minutes to honor the earth and all of its natural beauty.
2. Denver and Boulder combined have over 100 parks to visit that are easily accessible. Plan an afternoon outside instead of remaining inside.
and www.bouldercolorado.gov/parks-rec/parks-main are great places to start exploring!
3. Tap into your senses and become mindful of how you feel when in nature. There is a growing amount of evidence that time outside lowers depression, anxiety, increases our resilience to stress, and improves our overall mood with as little as 30 minutes of being outside in a green space. I personally find that my nervous system feels balanced with more time outside.
4. If your typical day has to be spent inside, bringing nature inside can be therapeutic. Get some easy to care for plants or flowers to tend to on your desk or office space. Perhaps a fish could be a nice companion at work or home. Whatever you decide, make it manageable and fun - not another task that becomes a chore.
Connecting with nature doesn’t necessarily have to be defined by weeklong hiking trips or becoming a hardcore mountain biker. Little shifts in your daily life can help you engage with nature and begin feeling more connected and less stressed. Try it out and let us know in the comments what works for you!
If you need a nudge or better plan for implementing some of these ideas, please contact us at 720-381-2755 or tradewindstherapy at gmail dot com. We’ll be happy to work with you on a personalized plan to get you where you want to be.
Garrett Hooper, MA, MFTC is a therapist for Trade Winds Therapy & Relationship Coaching in Wheat Ridge. He loves helping his clients connect with each other and themselves in creative ways. To make an appointment with Garrett, please call 720-381-2755 or email tradewindstherapy at gmail dot com.