5 ways to sneak a little more nature into busy, urban (or suburban) life

How valuable is time in nature not only to our health but to our productivity? So good that Amazon, one of the tech companies Known more for financial discipline, splurged on 40,000 plants and a working waterfront for its expanded Seattle headquarters. Jeff Bezos was not looking to win the design award. His team had found research showing that exposure to nature reduced stress, increased creativity, and improved performance.

And that’s not even mentioning the burden of studies showing how good even small doses of nature are for our mental, physical and spiritual well-being. Man has evolved in nature over millions of years. No wonder our bodies respond so well to being surrounded by the living world once again.

It all makes for an open and closed case for spending more time in nature (if you want to read more about this research, I’ve written about it many times before). But the problem for many is not being convinced of the benefits of exposure to nature, fitting it into their busy, urban or suburban lives.

For many, a week’s camping in a national park sounds wonderful, but logistically it is not possible. What are the options until you can schedule your next outdoor adventure? yourself The magazine rounds up 19 tips for small, doable doses of nature recently. Many of them are less than Earth shattering (a walk in the park has probably happened to you already) but some are simple.

1. Try Awesome Walk.

SELF suggests you “look for the fear experience,” but I’ve written about basically the same idea before, borrowing the term “surprise walk” from positive psychologists. Science has shown that awe, or the feeling of being a small, insignificant part of a much wider order, that people experience when they do things like look up at the night sky, is a powerful wellness booster.

You don’t have to walk hundreds of miles from city lights to experience it. When researchers instructed volunteers to take a 15-minute walk focusing on small moments of beauty, such as the play of light on a drop of dew or the subtle gradation of color in an autumn leaf, the volunteers experienced similar benefits. did. , Fear is available basically anywhere if you just take the time to explore it.

“It’s incredibly relaxing,” says Dora Kamau, a meditation teacher and registered psychiatric nurse at Headspace. yourself,

2. Do a “sensory scavenger hunt”.

The quantity of your time in nature matters less than the quality of it. What really matters is taking in the things around you (and shutting down your day-to-day worries). That’s why you might want to consider “sensory scavenger hunts” to focus your senses on the things around you, suggests Stacy Beller Strayer, associate medical director for Parks Rx Americas.

“Go one sense at a time. How many colors do you see? How many shades of green? Can you describe them? What’s going on? What do you hear? How many layers are there in the sound scene?” yourself,

3. Learn more about your local environment.

I grew up in a cool, wooded part of North America and now live in an arid, thorny Mediterranean landscape. I found that my lack of familiarity with the plants and animals around me left me feeling isolated from the natural world. That was until I downloaded the nature observation app naturalist and began to learn more about the ecosystem around him. Now I can name all the wildflowers in my local park, but I also feel that the local flora and fauna mean a bit more to me and I am a little more than that.

There are tons of apps and resources that can help you identify and learn more about your natural environment — even if it’s a beautiful weed peeking through a crack in the sidewalk outside your stoop — yourself I suggest you check them out.

Micah Mortali, an outdoors guide and author Rewilding: Meditation, Practice, and Skills for Awakening in Nature“We recommend learning about the land you are on, as well as the ecosystem’s indigenous people: wildlife populations, watersheds, soil types, geological features,” in the article.

4. Go barefoot.

There’s really no easier way to connect with nature than to feel the earth beneath your feet (though choose your location wisely, of course). “least a small study have found that grounding (also called earthing) is associated with better mood, and while the science is nascent, some research suggests it may also have positive physiological effects (on inflammation, for example),” notes .

5. Find a place to sit.

If you travel far, you will probably see new things in nature. But if you sit in the same place over and over again, you’ll probably notice something new too. Mortali suggests that you find a comfortable and pleasant spot away from home and commit to returning to it and just sit and observe as the seasons change.

“You just basically sit. The idea is to be still and keep your eyes open, and allow yourself to observe what’s going on and what’s happening on the ground for 15 to 30 minutes regularly, ” they tell. “It’s a very relaxing practice to help us recover from meditation fatigue from over-focusing.”

Was there a conspiracy? full article There are many more suggestions.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.