In Britain, doctors from the National Health Service routinely prescribe time to their patients. Sue Stuart-Smith, a British psychiatrist and author of The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature, 2020. She will tell her patients to “get as much exercise as possible, but always in a green environment.” “It’s immediate; just minutes from green surroundings, [they’ll have] a decrease in blood pressure “.
In other words, you don’t have to camp in the middle of the forest for a week to benefit from Mother Nature. “If people can go out on lunch breaks, that makes a big difference,” says Stuart-Smith.
It’s more important than ever in the modern era, when many of us spend hours a day indoors, in front of screens, says Emma Seppala, author of The Happiness Track 2016 and an expert in health psychology. “We’re depriving ourselves of this free resource that brings out the best in us.”
More tips for finding calm in nature:
Lower the clock
“The most important thing is to get into nature without time pressures,” says Peter Wohlleben, German author of the upcoming book The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing Our Ancient Bond With Forests and Nature. “Most of the time we have some kind of hourly work in our mind, just like in everyday life: you have to cover a certain number of kilometers in a set time. But why not sit under the tree for an hour? ”And definitely save the phone or at least in airplane mode, says Susan Madden, a forest bathing guide and meditation teacher near Yosemite National Park in California who leads small groups (35 dollars per person) in the surrounding area for guided dives in nature that conclude with a quiet cup of tea next to a stream or stream “because water has its own healing property”.
Don’t have any goals or feel that you need to “achieve” something
Before we begin, “you just need to establish the intent to be open to anything the experience can bring,” Madden says. “Don’t have preconceived expectations or ideas. Let it develop “.
Use all the senses
Start by feeling the air in your skin, Wohlleben suggests. So what can you smell? Do you hear squirrels chirping with leaves? Can you see insects if you look at the trunk of the tree? Then sit down, “close your eyes and feel that this is a place you belong.” You may want to walk slowly and see what you observe along the way, says Madden, who takes his groups on “very slow, conscious walks, maybe a quarter of a mile or half a mile in an hour or so.”
Sitting quietly in a beautiful garden is a unique cream, but there are also a myriad of benefits to doing the garden, says Stuart-Smith. Just for one: it states that caring for plants is a nutritional activity and that “nutritional activities are associated with the release of endorphins, our natural opioids, as well as oxytocin, sometimes called binding hormone, and both have positive effects on our mental health. ”Gardening also offers some of the calming effects of meditation, he adds,“ when weeding, for example, or sowing seeds … because it is totally present in what is doing. “If starting a garden from scratch seems intimidating, it suggests starting with something simple, like sunflowers.” You sow your seeds, they germinate reliably and quickly, and they will grow, “she says.” I love them. “
Bring nature inside
Architects have begun to incorporate natural elements (what is known as biophilic design) into facilities for the elderly. Aegis Living Bellevue Overlake, a assisted living center in Bellevue, Washington, opened last month with plants and flowery living everywhere: a glass solarium in the lobby, six-foot palm trees, a koi pond and plenty of outdoor space for foster serenity. The healing effect of the plants is real, insists Aegis Living CEO Dwayne Clark: “People get sick less,” he says, noting studies that have shown that even having plants in hospital rooms patients may have better health outcomes. Companies also incorporate abundant green areas into their office plans. Amazon’s large Seattle headquarters, known as The Spheres, opened in 2018 with glass-enclosed biodomes containing about 40,000 plants, designed to inspire creativity in its employees.
Even just having more green (color) inside has been shown to decrease anxiety, probably because we associate it with nature. (Some have assumed that this calming effect is why actors traditionally had to wait for “green rooms” before acting).
Physical activity is known to reduce stress, but studies have shown that it is even more so when done outdoors in a natural setting.