How much time do you spend in nature? Research shows a minimum of 2 hours spent in nature each week can significantly increase health and wellbeing; from reducing anxiety and stress to improving cardiovascular and immune health, getting outside and amongst nature has a host of valuable benefits. Despite how good for us time spend in nature is however, many of us live in environments far away from forests, beaches and wide open spaces, with far less than the recommended 2 hours per week spent in natural surroundings.
With Earth Day approaching on the 22nd April, we wanted to share how even if you live in a city centre, a high-rise apartment or have a lifestyle that permits little time to wander amongst the trees, you can still connect to nature and reap the benefits. In this blog, you’ll learn how even the smallest aspects of nature can have a big impact on your physical and mental wellbeing, and how to seek them out in your urban environment. If you’re planning on escaping city life for a few days, read our blog on how to restore your senses with the practice of Shinrin Yoku or ‘Forest Bathing’.
Bring Nature Inside
Throughout the height of the pandemic, houseplants become incredibly popular. Online searches for houseplants skyrocketed, and suddenly many of us were adopting leafy green friends to fill every sunny spot we could find. As well as looking beautiful, houseplants can also improve our health by cleaning the air, removing mould particles, working as natural humidifiers, and boosting oxygen levels. Emotionally, houseplants provide us with something to nurture and support, which for many women in particular is something we intuitively gravitate towards, and they can help reduce stress levels too. By bringing nature inside, you’ll be able to connect to nature on a daily basis, whether you’re able to get outside or not. Choose spider plants for their air-cleaning benefits, lavender for soothing aromatherapy properties, and English Ivy to help remove damaging mould particles from the home.
Be sure to touch, tend to and talk to your plants to help them thrive!
For more houseplant inspiration, add the Yogamatters x Emma Alviti Zabuton and eye pillow patterned with a creative houseplant design to your yoga practice, and spend time slowing down with the Plant Paradise 500 Pieces Jigsaw Puzzle.
Try Cloud Gazing
As a child, did you ever lay down on the grass and simply stare up at the clouds? Perhaps your imagination helped you create images and stories about the clouds, and transformed them into familiar objects, and perhaps your mind was allowed to daydream and wonder as you simply watched the sky for a while. As an adult, how often to you gaze up at the sky? Many of us spend our days looking downward; whether at our phones, or simply because we’ve adopted a hunched-over technology-influenced posture. Excessive time spent in positions like this can not only cause aching neck and back muscles, but also compromises our breathing and mood too. When you take a moment to look up at the sky, you might just notice your mood, mind and perspective shift to a more positive and relaxed state. Watching the clouds can be a wonderful way to let your mind move from a hyper-focused stressed-out state, to one of calmness and creativity. Especially if your days are busy and bustling, allowing time to free-up your mind can allow you to access a sense of space, which is often where our greatest insights are found. Look up at the clouds without any expectation or ‘goal’ – let your mind wander, and as thoughts arise, let them pass by just as the clouds do.
Soak Up The Sun
Whether the day is bright and sunny or grey and sombre, spending time in natural daylight is incredibly beneficial for pretty much every aspect of our health. Safely exposing your skin and eyes to natural sunlight can help re-set the body’s circadian rhythms, ensuring you feel energised in the day time and sleep well at night. Natural sunlight can also help boost mood levels, improves immune health, provides us with a healthy dose of vitamin D, and even benefits metabolic health. Whether you head out for a walk, step out onto your balcony, open up the window or perch on a park bench, help your body benefit from nature’s goodness with plenty of sunlight as often as you can.
Make sunlight a part of your morning routine by pairing some outdoor time with a meditation from Sunrise Gratitude, and learn how yogis have honoured the sun for thousands of years in Surya Namaskara by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
Wherever you live, try using these simple ways to connect to nature this week to benefit from all nature has to offer, even in the most urban environments.