I’m certainly one of those people that needs to take a step back from the outside world every now and then. Increasingly, I find nature helps to restore me to my default setting, a clear head and an optimistic spirit.
It’s scientifically proven that being in nature boosts your mental well-being and increases productivity and concentration. And the exercise that often goes with it is only going to be a good thing. So here’s an approach to self-care with a difference: nature’s very own guide to self-care.
Walk in the woods
If I’m stressed, the first place I think to go is for a stroll in a local woodland (preferably ancient). Breathing in the fresh air, listening to birdsong, the brush of leaves and the murmur of gentle everyday sounds gradually allows all the stress and overthinking to melt away. Nature has the amazing power to make even the biggest problems seem small and no longer significant. In woodland there’s so much to see, thousands of leaves each unique as a snowflake, fungi subtly snaking up dead and alive trunks, and countless animal lives unfolding secretly around you. It’s the chance to escape to a whole other world.
Put a bird feeder in your garden
A recent study concluded that watching birds makes us less stressed and reduces anxiety.
One of the first things we did when we moved in was to buy a bird feeding station for the front garden. This was so we could see garden birds from the comfort of our own sofa. Now seeing the resident sparrows and starlings is always a highlight of my day. Get a bird feeder, place it preferably near a window so you watch the visiting birds. If a bird feeding station or big feeders aren’t an option get a window feeder that can be attached to the glass on your window.
Read nature writing
Reading nature books is the perfect alternative to getting outdoors if circumstances don’t permit. Or if you simply feel that curling up in bed with a book is the way to go when undertaking self-care. Good nature writing has the power to transport you to stunning unique locations and experience magical wildlife encounters.
Sometimes I find it easier to dip in and out of nature writing rather than facing intense story lines and bad guys in my fictional reading. When we’re dealing with bad guys in the real world it’s nice to forget they exist for a while. You can find some of my nature reading suggestions here.
Listen to bird song and nature sounds
Just listening to the sounds of nature can have the same transformationl effect as being in nature. Escape the cloying background sounds of your daily commute or settle down to birdsong at home. You can find apps to listen to nature sounds on any online app store.
Watch a nature documentary
Watching nature documentaries never fails to put me in an upbeat mood full of wonder and awe at our magnificent planet. Whilst our wildlife and our environment is seriously in trouble, it’s important to appreciate what we have. There’s still so much diversity of life out there. Whether it’s listening to David Attenborough’s soothing voice or enjoying the eccentricities of the Springwatch presenters, there’s a nature documentary out there that will suit you.
Birdwatching forces you to slow down and live in the moment. Watching keenly for any sign of an interesting bird, grabbing your binoculars and ID book at the slightest flash of movement. From spending time sitting in bird hides I’ve seen some wonderful and rare wildlife behaviours play out. Find a local nature reserve with a bird hide or go on a bird watching guided walk.
Visit the sea
I’m certain there’s nothing in this world more relaxing than spending time by the sea. The crashing waves, never-ending horizon, and contact with forces that feel like true wilderness. I can literally spend hours sitting on a rock staring out across the ocean when visiting the coast. Paddling with the soft sand beneath your feet and cool waves swilling around your legs is also so therapeutic. Braving a dip in the sea or trying body boarding in the salt waters of the UK will definitely blow the cobwebs away!
Whilst bubble baths and scented candles are really not my thing, for many they offer the perfect way to relax. If you like to indulge in this way, why not embrace nature whilst doing so? Use organic nature-themed soaps, bath bombs and scented candles. Lush is a great place to find some luxuries and they are good for the planet too!
Help nature out
Whilst facing the enormity of the bad in the world can be a struggle, just doing your little bit can make the world of difference to you and the planet. There’s always some small way we can contribute to making our home a better place, ensuring we don’t feel quite so helpless. Going litter picking, using less plastic, eating less meat, planting wildflowers or letting your garden go a little wild are all easy ways you can make an important difference for nature and your own peace of mind.
I hope you have enjoyed nature’s tips on how to do self-care! What things in nature make you feel better?