As we dive deeper into the technological age we now live in, is it possible that we are increasingly losing touch with our natural surroundings? I want you to contemplate this for a couple minutes.
Be honest with yourself! Is the tendency to spend an increasing amount time on your phone and computer replacing time that may otherwise be spent outside taking in some of your natural surroundings in a variety of beneficial ways?
Personally, I find that more and more I have to make a committed effort to disconnect from leisure and work related activities on my technological devices in order to connect with the natural environment that surrounds me. I do this because I know how important it is for my overall wellbeing and peace of mind. When I don’t make the extra effort to do this I can sure feel the difference! I am more irritable and easily over whelmed when I neglect taking time to be out in nature consistently.
As our lives/lifestyle tends to become increasingly complicated or hectic, as well as computer dominated, naturally this has an effect on us. The effect is most commonly known as and experienced as “stress”. Whether you are aware of it or not, spending time in nature is very soothing and healing in many ways. Some of you may be quite aware of this, while others may not think too much about it. Nonetheless, this is something that is important to consider!
The reality is that time spent in nature is healing and relaxing in many ways physiologically. It has been proven by scientists and is not hard to personally experience. For that reason, it is safe to say that being in nature is therapeutic. Rather than me sharing with you test results that prove the healing effects of time spent in nature, how about you just find out for yourself?! I would like to invite you to take a week long “Nature Therapy Challenge/Invitation.” It will only require that you devote a little extra time to this each day for one week. The only challenge is committing to do it! The rest is easy. This is all that it takes to accept this invitation! Don’t try and tell me you don’t have time! You know you would find the time to be on Facebook and Instagram, talking on the phone or watching TV shows and movies. Don’t worry you can still do those things if you want, but it may be happening a little less for the 7 days of the challenge.
Are you ready to accept the “Nature Therapy Challenge”?! Awesome! I knew you would say yes!
Here are the guidelines for the 7 consecutive days:
1. Every day you will commit to spend 30-60 min in nature. It can be a local park, river, ocean, forest, botanical gardens, nature preserve, etc. Look at maps of your surrounding area to find desirable destinations and ask people near you if they can recommend local places to explore. Choose some ideal place that are free from pollution and noise, may be a location which is little away from city & commercial establishments.
2. Map out a plan for the week that is realistic, based on your schedule. For example, when you have a full day of work commit to at least 30 minutes spent in a local park that is near your home or work. Maybe utilize a lunch break to make sure you fulfill your commitment. On a day off or one with more free time, plan spending at least an hour in nature and make effort to find a more remote setting.
3. Once you have arrived in the natural environment of your choice, take time to truly tune into the surroundings. This means turn off your cell phone! Now, allow your senses to absorb all that is around you. Notice the colors of the vegetation, the sounds of the birds and maybe the wind in the trees or the reflection on the water. Can you smell the trees or the flowers? Feel the breeze on your skin? Now is the perfect time to take a few deep breaths and allow waves or relaxation to wash through you. It will happen naturally, but we can also make a conscious effort to breathe deeply.
4. Walking in nature is truly wonderful. In addition to doing this, I would like to add one more thing to the “nature therapy challenge”. For some of the time you are encouraged to sit touching the earth or allow your bare feet to feel the grass or water. If possible, find a moment of stillness in direct contact with the earth. For example, lie in the grass, walk in or dive into the water, sit at the base of a tree or near a body of water.
5. Once you have settled into this place you may close your eyes and listen to sounds of Mother Nature or simply witness the details of your surroundings. These are opportunities to see a small flower growing in the grass that you would not normally notice. The reflection of the sky on the water’s surface may deeply impress you with its beauty, while a sunrise or sunset is likely to be mesmerizing. The possibilities are endless!
6. The last guideline in this challenge/invitation is to be open to the healing benefits of nature. Allow yourself to relax and absorb all the goodness that mother earth has to offer! We all have fear, stress and anxiety in our lives, so it is given that we will show up to our “nature therapy” destination with a lot on our minds and maybe even a heavy heart. That’s ok. You have come to the master therapist! Mother Nature has the power to alleviate much of our stress and anxieties. It is helpful to be a willing participant by allowing ourselves to soften in her presence, ultimately letting our guard down. For this reason, it is best to plan to spend this time alone in nature during these 7 days as much as possible. There may be other people around if you are in a public park or less remote location, but the idea is to not have a companion for this specific time. Being in solitude for your “nature therapy outings” will be very beneficial.
7. Once you have completed your “nature therapy experience” journal for a bit. You could write down only a few words or a whole book. Up to you, but write something about what you experienced soon after the time spent in nature.
Once you’ve completed the 7 day challenge now reflect on how you might feel different than 7 days earlier and look back at your journal entries. Contemplate how a regular prae of spending time in nature may benefit you and give a sense of happiness. It is quite possible that “nature therapy” will significantly relieve the symptoms of stress that we all experience on a daily basis. By placing yourself in the hands of Mother Nature you can rest for that moment like a small child in loving arms! The healing that can happen during that time is sure to have a deep and lasting effect.
Mother Nature is calling…can you hear her invitation to relaxation?