Connecting with nature feels lovely, perhaps a little magical at times. It’s restorative and allows you to step outside your busy life for a while and breathe. But there are already so many demands to juggle daily, within work and family issues, that getting some nature time often falls off the to-do list.
A few ways to reconnect with nature in 15 minutes or less
The good news is that you don’t need to commit to a weekend hike in the mountains to reconnect with nature. It can be a quick, restorative check-in that’s easy to integrate into your day.
Try one of these suggestions right now to get a quick nature buzz.
The easiest way to reconnect with Mother Nature is to take off your shoes and wiggle your toes in the grass.
Any grass will do, whether it’s your back yard or a nearby park.
Choose to spend your lunch break in the park, resting your eyes on the soft greens and feeling the textures of grass, tree trunks, and leaves.
Try some gardening
Nothing connects you faster to the rhythms and energy of the natural world than tending a garden.
It doesn’t matter if your garden is a traditional lawn and garden plot, or even a communal vegetable garden, or your favourite herbs in pots on the kitchen windowsill.
Even a pot plant or flowers on your desk will change the energy levels and make you feel good.
Make it a daily practice to notice what’s happening in the sky.
Instead of checking the weather app on your phone, take a look out of the window. See what sort of clouds there are or the position of the sun.
Use all your senses to be aware of what’s happening in nature right now.
Are there birds singing?
Are they making nests?
What colour are the leaves on the trees?
What’s flowering right now?
How does the air feel on your skin?
You can ‘read’ the environment through your senses – you only have to notice.
Do you walk down the street with your mind already in your next meeting or worrying about how the last appointment went?
So many people spend their lives in their heads, not aware of the world around them or how they are moving through it.
In most cases, you are oblivious to the beauty in the most urban of environments and blind to its existence.
Leave the car behind, especially in short journeys and walk. Take in the scenery, listen out for the birds chirping along. Most of the time you hadn’t noticed, being stuck in that traffic jam.
8 Proven Ways Walking Improves Your Brain
It might surprise you to hear that something as simple as walking can actually improve your brainpower. It doesn’t even have to be full-on power walking!
Even a twenty- or thirty-minute walk during your lunch break can have a positive impact on your brain. Here are eight ways science has proven that walking is excellent for your brain.
1. Walking Helps Lower Your Risk of Depression
Walking is an excellent way to improve your mental health. A 2018 study showed that any kind of moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking can boost your brain health and lower your risk of developing depression by a third.
2. Walking Improve Your Cognitive Function
A number of studies have shown that the magic amount of twenty to thirty minutes of daily aerobic exercise, such as walking, improves cognitive function and memory.
3. Walking Stimulates Endorphins
Just ten minutes of walking is enough to start your brain releasing endorphins, the brain chemicals that lower stress, boost your mental health, and make you feel good. You’ve heard of the runner’s high? Well, you can get a similar positive rush from a brisk walk!
4. Walking Releases the Brain’s Magic Protein
Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) has been dubbed the brain’s ‘magic protein’ as it helps to rewire and build new neural pathways.
Scientists believe it can even help lower your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. And cardiovascular exercise is an easy way to stimulate the production of BDNF and keep your brain in peak condition.
5. Walking Lowers Physical and Mental Fatigue
A 2008 study by the University of Georgia found that just three sessions a week of a low-intensity exercise like walking can reduce fatigue levels by as much as 65 percent.
6. Walking Builds Hippocampus Strength
Your hippocampus is the key part of the brain for forming and storing memories. Research has shown that even brief walks can actually increase the size and efficiency of your hippocampus.
7. Walking Improves Creativity
Artists, writers, and philosophers have long known the importance of walking for clearing blocked creativity and getting inspiration flowing again.
Science can now back this up with a 2014 study by Stanford University showing that walking increases your creative output by up to sixty percent.
8. Walking Increases Blood Flow to the Brain
Blood is vital for every organ in your body, not least of all, your brain. That magic twenty minutes is all it takes to increase the blood flow to your brain to keep it active and healthy.
The Buddhist teacher and philosopher Thich Nat Hanh reminds us to slow down and be fully present in the world.
One of his best-loved sayings bids you to “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
All it takes is a small but significant mental gear shift to stay connected to the earth and nature with every step.