Blame it on our increasingly busy lifestyles or urban development but adults are spending less time outdoors each week, with research showing a growing disconnect with nature. Other than providing a beautiful backdrop to look at (or for an Instagram photo), the outdoors come with a list of science-proven benefits such as improving our short-term memory and helping us to de-stress. If you haven't spent much time outdoors lately, here are some easy ways to reconnect with nature and reap its health benefits for your mind and body.
Bring the outdoors, indoors.
Being close to nature has been shown to boost mental wellbeing: studies found those living in urban areas to have a disadvantage in processing stress, with contributing factors including air pollution and heat stress.
While we've long known about the air quality-improving powers of indoors plants, why not take it a step further and bring other aspects of nature indoors? Other than adding a dose of prettiness to the home, flowers, seashells, sand, and other natural wonders found outdoors can have a beneficial effect on the mind.
If you're not into photographs of tranquil streams and leaves, try to emulate the outdoors by using earth-inspired tones when decorating. Earthy tones will not only read welcoming, they'll also remind you of the great outdoors. Next time you're looking to update your interiors, take a few leaves from your garden or petals from one of your favorite plants and allow them to help you settle on your tint of choice.
When shopping for furniture, stick to pieces with natural finishes and textures (think wooden side benches or linen sheets). Look for ways to maximize your home's natural light flow, and keep windows sparkling clean. If you have a bit of cash to spend, look at installing a skylight in the kitchen or dining area.
Whatever your method in upping your home's nature status may be, start slowly. Choose an outdoor element that makes you feel calm and look for an easy way to incorporate it indoors. After all, it's about celebrating the natural elements that you connect with best.
Add nature to your beauty routine.
There's no greater way to get back in touch with nature than to spend a night outdoors under the stars, but if camping isn't really your thing (note: that's okay), why not introduce nature into your day-to-day life?
Take a break from buying your regular bathroom products and make your own nature-spiked substitutes instead. Search Pinterest for natural bath bombs and look for recipes that include flowers and natural oils. You'll not only connect with nature while making your bespoke bath bombs, but while relaxing in a rose-scented tub as well.
Look at ways to incorporate natural elements into your skincare regimen. Ingredients such as oats, dead sea salt, manuka honey, and lemon juice can be used to make face masks and body scrubs.
We're not suggesting you completely throw out your deodorant and only use what you find in the garden, but by finding opportunities to add more nature into your regimen, you'll start to feel a lot more "at one" with the earth.
Make a commitment to mother nature.
Doing our bit for the environment can easily fall by the wayside once everyday life and its countless appointments, phone calls, meetings, and school drop-offs are factored in. However, making a difference is a sure-way to guarantee a renewed connection with nature and will also give you a hit of feel-good endorphins, too.
Don't freak out — it's not all activist projects and electrical cars. Being kinder to the environment starts with giving more consideration to how your live day-to-day. Start with your family's plastic use and get real about what plastic is necessary and what is not. Ditch the cling wrap and invest in some fun and useful lunch-boxes the kids can bring home and wash out each night. If you're low on time and usually grab takeout from a local cafe to eat back at your work desk, purchase a small cutlery set and place them in a small box at your desk. That way, there's no need to pick up a plastic knife and fork you'll most likely throw out after just one use.
When throwing things away, educate yourself on the best way to do so. On average, a polyester dress can take 200 or more years to decompose. Instead of mindlessly trashing a wardrobe item you no longer want, look at giving it to charity or selling online. You could score yourself a nice cash bonus, as well as reduce one item in landfill (win).
Similarly, beauty and health items such as lipsticks, contact lenses and product packaging are often thrown out with general waste, most probably due to a lack of knowing how to mindfully bin then. Organizations such as TerraCycle specialize in recycling and up-cycling hard-to-manage waste. After logging your product on a website, you can print off a free postage label and send your unwanted goods off, knowing they will be disposed in a eco-friendly way.
Switch off (at least, occasionally).
Fact: the average person touches their phone 2,617 times a day. Whether you know your phone use falls well below this statistic, or represents your time-spent-on-phone rather fairly, there's no denying our screen dependency is continuing to grow.
So what has it got to do with nature? Nothing really, but also everything.
Various studies have found a link between our growing screen time and anxiety and depression, particularly among young people. In fact, 64.5 percent of people aged 18 to 34 admit to taking their phone with them to the bathroom.
More time engaged with our phones, computers, and televisions (hello, Netflix) has seen a drastic decline in how often we're spending outside among nature, in particular, how much time children are spending outdoors. Although times have changed, research has found there are still plenty of benefits to getting your kids outdoors, including greater creativity levels and less depression and hyperactivity.
A study by Melusine Martin of James Cook University explored how screen time could be affecting people's connection to nature. After spending time within various communities, Martin concluded that reconnecting with nature could be as simple as stepping away from the screen and going outside.
"The starting point would be for people to recognize that they don't spend enough time connecting with nature," she says. "Close your computer, forget your phone at home, and take time to reconnect."
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Now to Love.