Spending Time in Nature: A Self Care Strategy
With spring around the corner, the start of a new season encourages us to get active and enjoy some long awaited time in nature.
The benefits of warm weather are abundant, such as exposure to natural sunlight, increased levels of Vitamin D, and more opportunities to engage in outdoor activities. However, the advantages of spending time outdoors aren’t limited to just physical. Research shows that incorporating brief interactions with nature can also improve our mental wellbeing.
The stresses of living in a big city can take a toll on our physical and mental health. Studies suggest that living in urban cities are linked to developing mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety (1). Researchers found that being raised in urban settings has made us more sensitive to social stresses.
Time in Nature
An integral part of our holistic health, is ensuring that we take the time to take care of ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually. While uprooting your life as a city dweller may seem enticing. we can learn to adapt to everyday stressors and thrive!
Spending time in nature is a wonderful self-care tool. According to Cognitive psychologist David Strayer’s hypothesis, “being in nature allows the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s command centre, to dial down and rest, like an overused muscle.”(2).
Here are 3 of our favourite tips to incorporate more nature into your life:
1. Choose a Beautiful Space in Nature
Some of our favourite spots include: Edwards Gardens, The Scarborough Bluffs and High Park (just to name a few). While these gorgeous spots make it easy to take time for yourself outside, choosing a spot that isn’t too out of your way can make it easier to incorporate time with nature into your regular routine.
2. Be Creative in Nature
Separating yourself from your everyday stressors will help give you a sense of clarity that can help promote creativity. I’ve written some of my best work on hikes, either inspired by the beautiful scenery or the mental peace I was able to achieve.
It’s not so much producing a work of art that relaxes you, but the process in of itself. Observing the beauties in nature and recreating those images as your own interpretation can help slow you down and appreciate the beauty in things you would of missed.
Bring a pen and notebook or some art supplies on your next outdoor adventure and put it to the test. You don’t have to be Picasso to enjoy the arts!
3. Move and Stretch in Nature
Yoga is easily one of our favourite ways to move outside. Fresh air enhances the experience of yoga, allowing you to deepen stretches and relaxation. Doing yoga outdoors can be one of the most relaxing and peaceful experiences as it combines two practices that are good for your mind, body and soul. If you love yoga, outdoor yoga is something you’ve got to try!
As our days get busier, it becomes more and more beneficial to spend time alone in the beauty of the outdoors. It promotes a sense of peace of mind we can lack in our hectic lives to help to sort through our thoughts and experiences. So set a date, pick a place and grab some of your favourite things to help mentally reset yourself!
Michelle Tran is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist at Village Juicery’s College and Yonge St. locations. She is a fitness enthusiast and believes in igniting the power of your choices. Choosing good people, good habits and good food, she believes in honouring the relationship you have with your body. Taking the time to listening to its needs so you can differentiate between your body’s wants and needs. Fuel your life with choices that benefit your life and balancing them with choices that your spark your soul.
- Reynolds, G. (July 22, 2015). How Walking In Nature Changes the Brain. New York Times (https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/how-nature-changes-the-brain/?_r=0)
- Willams, F. (n.d.). This is Your Brain on Nature, National Geographic, as referenced in Suzuki, D., (2015). Nature calms the brain and heals the body. (http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2016/04/nature-calms-the-brain-and-heals-the-body/