Your head is cluttered and sometimes feels foggy. You feel stressed beyond belief with no sign of life slowing down enough for you to catch up. You’re tired, but your mind is racing making it impossible to sleep at night. Your heart will race unexpectedly or your hands will shake uncontrollably. You break out into a cold sweat. You have to physically tell yourself to breathe.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt this way.
Anxiety is a real thing that many people suffer from to some degree or another. For me, it happens when I don’t take the time to slow down and nurture my mind. I eat healthily, and I’ve learned to love exercise. I believe both of these are very important in maintaining our health both in body and mind, but sometimes that just isn’t enough.
Taking care of our mental health is equally as important as being physically healthy. In today’s life, most people are overworked and over scheduled. Taking the time to nurture my mind was the final step that helped me find a balance that works. So, how exactly does one do this?
There is this AMAZING way to clear your head and nurture your mind that costs nothing and is probably right outside your back door. NATURE. Any time of year, you can find peace in what mother earth provides for us.
So, what exactly are the best ways to use nature to nurture your mind?
Just like with healthy eating, you probably plan your meals and plan your grocery shopping lists and just like with exercise, you probably have a regular routine or schedule for your workouts. Nurturing your mental health is no different. Find a way to regularly expose yourself to nature and it will feel like a mental reset.
Here are my top tips for using nature to nurture your mind:
- EXPERIMENT – Try different experiences and time amounts to find what works best to find your own balance. For some, a quick few minutes of daily meditation outside might be all it takes. For others, it might mean dedicating an hour or more every weekend in a park or garden.
- AVOID DISTRACTION – If you are more introverted, you might notice better results spending time in nature alone, then you can give it your full attention. If you thrive better with someone else along for support, make sure your attention is still on the mental reset and not too much on socializing. It might also be best to silence your phone or even turn it off.
- AWARENESS/MEDITATION – Go outside and look at the clouds in the sky or any plants you see growing. Make yourself aware of the smells in the air, and the sounds of the birds or other animals. Feel the sun or the wind on your skin. Be aware of all your senses and allow that focus to take you away from your daily stresses.
- BE DEDICATED – I realize that every day brings different weather. (Trust me, I know this, I live in Minnesota.) One thing about nature is that it is unpredictable, just like life is sometimes. Be dedicated to your time with mother earth and you will find peace and clarity in all her seasons. Dressed appropriately of course (Unless there’s a true safety risk, please do be smart.)
It might seem like finding time to spend in nature is just one more thing to put on the todo list and certain seasons are easier than others, but when you find your balance you will look forward to this time. I personally love to sit on my patio for a few minutes in the morning with a cup of coffee, it’s enough to jump start me mentally. I use that time as my dedicated nature time, but I incorporate as much outdoor activity as I can as well.
That leads me to another way to nurture your mind with nature.
Be an active participant in nature.
I don’t necessarily mean any sort of hardcore activity. It could be something as small as growing a tomato plant on your patio. Or if you’re really brave, committing to raise an outdoor animal. Something that puts you in direct contact with nature. Growing something yourself, especially from a seed can be so incredibly therapeutic, as can raising an animal. It’s an amazing way to connect with nature and disconnect from the outside world.
In the spring when I start my garden, I am truly in my happy place. Some of my most peaceful and content moments are sitting outside looking at my plants. Watching the bees work hard to pollinate the amazing vegetables I’ve planted.
It’s not all peaches and cream though because plants and animals do eventually die. That is another wonderful way that nature nurtures us. It can teach us life lessons. Mother earth will have struggles, just like we do but she keeps on truckin. Every plant in your garden may die, but the season will always come back around again. It’s a motivational reminder to stay positive when life throws you a curve ball.
It’s amazing to think that something as simple as dedicating a few minutes of meditation in nature can have such a dramatic impact in reducing stress and anxiety. Sometimes you just need to step away from the crazy side of life and connect with nature to clear your head and give you that mental reset.
So, if you have ever felt overscheduled and stressed out (pretty sure everyone has felt that way at some point!), remember to eat healthily, exercise and keep your dates with mother nature. Let her nurture you and keep your mind clear, happy and of course healthy.
What is your favorite way to experience nature?