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5 Activities to connect with nature

Updated: Apr 15

Some of our favorite activities on connecting with nature to improve your health and expand your relationship with nature


I love asking throughout my daily interactions how individuals are interacting with nature. Some are quick to respond, having already spent time with their hands in the garden, watching the birds at the feeder or feeling the fresh air along their skin during a walk. But most often I hear, “oh um I’m not sure,” or “no idea”. Throughout human history mankind has gravitated towards nature. Even in the great ancient civilizations, the natural world was celebrated and incorporated for wellbeing- think of the hanging gardens of Babylon for example. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes nature as “our greatest source of health and wellbeing” and modern research clearly shows that that psychological connectedness to the natural world, e.g. feeling part of nature, seeing beauty in natural things, or interacting with nature is positively associated with positive well-being including improving sleep, reducing stress and boosting happiness, as well as increasing attention, memory and creativity (Capaldi, 2014; White 2021). The health value of spending time in nature goes beyond the psychological. Research also suggests contact with microbes in the environment can “train” our immune systems and reinforce the microbial communities on our skin, in our airways and guts (Rook, 2013). Green prescriptions in countries like Canada and the USA are now being used to treat physical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and lung diseases, but you don’t need a prescription to connect and expand your relationship with the natural world!


Here’s 5 ideas to get you started or expand upon your relationship with nature:

Seedlings begin to sprout in front of a background of lush garden
Activities to connect with nature : tending to seedlings

•Plant something


  • Doesn’t need to be big, even watching 1 seed grow on the windowsill is great!

  • Gardening has been shown to have a positive impact on mood and brain chemistry.

  • Outdoor gardening allows you to get out into the fresh air, reaping the benefits of breathe and sunlight.

  • Gardening can be a mindfulness practice where you can just exist in the moment or tune into your senses for a grounding experience

  • Trees can help decrease a city’s temperature by up to 10 degrees, clear the air, and give off more oxygen.

  • Trees can increase your property value by 15%

  • Another option is to plant your own fruits and veggies which will benefit your health and reduce your trips to the grocery store



•Get on your feet

- & go for a barefoot walk. Barefoot walking in nature provides a range of physical, mental, and emotional health benefits by reconnecting people with the Earth's natural energy and restoring natural foot and body mechanics.



A rocky coast line with blue skies and textured clouds, laps waves in the right hand side. To the left legs are crossed showing barefeet sprinkled with sand in the foreground and a weathered staircase enveloped in greens in the background
Barefoot walking & grounding in nature © SEELEDU 2024

•Use all your senses to reconnect with Nature

  • Slow down and be present. Most people live their lives at such a fast pace that it becomes difficult to appreciate the subtleties of birds, plants, trees & natural settings. By focusing on all of your senses you enable a general slow down to tune into your environment in ways you would normally miss. What are the sounds you hear? What does the air feel like at this time? Can you feel the warmth of the sun? Or the smell of your surroundings? Use your senses to ground you in the moment and connect yourself with the trees, dirt, water, air, insects, birds and nature around you.


•Take up a seasonal sport-

  • A seasonal sport is a great way to deepen your relationship with the natural world. Surfing, standup paddleboarding, kayaking

A man fishes in front of still water with clouds reflected from above
Fishing in both urban and wilderness settings can expand your relationship with nature

and fishing for example demand that you pay close attention to wind speed and direction, tides, swells (both distant and nearby), water temperature, and currents.

  • ***did you know that proximity to water – especially the sea – is associated with many positive measures of physical and mental wellbeing, from higher levels of vitamin D to better social relations and improved cognitive development in children (White, 2013).

  • Winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and ice climbing will quickly have you developing a relationship to the weather, monitoring incoming storms, snowpack, and the wind direction. Cueing into these subtleties brings a greater awareness to natural occurrences and our understanding of the natural world around us.



•Visit your local farmers

  • Do you know where your food comes from? Get to know your local farmers and support area businesses and agricultural practices. Did you know that food in grocery stores travel an average of 1,500 miles to get to you. When you buy locally, it’s transported in shorter distances, makes use of nourishing seasonable produce and reinforces your local community.


SEELEDU TIP: build practices for you! Ask what do you already enjoy doing? And then bring it outdoors! With a little creativity most activities can be brought outdoors. Bring your book on the porch, set up a blanket in the park for a lunch picnic, go for an afternoon walk to your favorite playlist. Scalable actions create a upward spiral of change. No one is asking you to go wilderness hiking (unless you are into that- in which case, right on and we will see you there!), but with a little creativity, your favorite activities can be brought outside to develop your relationship with nature.


How are you interacting with nature today?


What is SEELEDU and what can SEELEDU do for you?


SEELEDU explores the journey of being human and nurtures nature connections for health and well-being. SEELEDU is based in science and grounded in nature. Practicing in ecopsychology and recognizing the mutual compassion and nurturing ability between nature and humans, SEELEDU offers live and online programming, development and learning for holistic, whole-body well-being.


References:

Capaldi, C. A., Dopko, R. L. & Zelenski, J. M. (2014). The relationship between nature connectedness and happiness: A meta-analysis. Front. Psychol. 5, 976.

Rook, G.A. (2013). Regulation of the immune system by biodiversity from the natural environment: An ecosystem service essential to health. Yale University School of Medicine: https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1313731110

World Health Organization. (2020). Nature is our Greatest Source of Health and Well-Being: https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/world-environment-day-2020

White, M.P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J. et al. (2019). Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. Sci Rep9, 7730. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44097-3

White, M.P., Elliott, L.R. Grellier, J., Economou, T., Bell, S., Bratman G.N., Criach, M., Gascon, M., Ojala, A, Roiko, A., Lima, M.L., Lohmus, M., Nieuwenhuijsen, M., Schultz, P. W., van den Bosch, M.A., & Fleming, L.E. (2021). Associations between green/blue spaces and mental health across 18 countries. Scientific Reports, in press


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