One of the things I’ve noticed during Covid is that I’m appreciating spending time outside a whole lot more than I ever used to.
As a child my happy place was the bench seat in our living room where I could usually be found curled up with a good book. I still love a good book, however these days I’m just as likely to be found sitting outside with it.
Spending time outside and in nature is essential for our wellbeing. It’s good for our brains, boosts our immune system and helps to reduce blood pressure and stress.
Research from the University of East Anglia found that communities with higher levels of greenspace exposure (including open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation, urban parks and street greenery) are more likely to report good overall health. The study found that spending time in, or living close to, natural green spaces is associated with many significant health benefits, such as a reduction in the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth. People who spend more time in nature also have better sleep and feel less stressed.
A trend that started in Japan in the 1980s is shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. It was started as a response to Japan’s public health crisis due to overwork resulting in death, and as way to support people who were burning out from the tech-boom. Forest bathing can be as simple as taking a walk in nature and connecting with what’s around you, or you can have a more structured experience with a guided meditation walk.
If you’re not keen on the walking part, then find a quiet spot to sit quietly and absorb the nature around you. Whether in a forest, a park, a spot of green in a city under a tree or in your backyard. My favourite place at home is our back deck, where I can see the trees and the sky and hear the birds chirping.
Even having pot plants makes a difference, with research showing productivity is greatly enhanced by the presence of plants in the office as it helps increases memory retention and concentration, and our work higher quality and more accurate.
Regardless of what you choose, don’t forget to turn your phone off (or at least put it in flight mode) and protect your skin from the sun. Even in winter.
How could you spend more time with nature?