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August 28, 2015

20 Ways to Make Your Urban Heart Green.

Photo: Youssef Hanna/Flickr

I spent six months living in three very large cities throughout France and Japan and it was mentally wearing.

Between noise pollution from taxis and public transportation, billboards galore everywhere you look and buildings jam packed into city streets to maximize square footage, city life can get overwhelming for even the most hardened folk.

It’s hard to relax in a city because you constantly have to be street smart.

I developed my—what I call—city survival mode. It’s a way to get by, especially for empaths who often have a difficult time thriving in chaotic urban environments with an abundance of energy. But it’s a disconnected way of living where we often “turn-off” our receptivity to feeling because it can simply place too much stress on our nervous system to take in all the stimuli associated with city life.

Older and potentially slightly wiser now, I have my own self-care routine that I follow to keep my sanity in check whenever I partake in city life—it centers around nature.

My meditation practice revolves around a respect for the divinity of Mother Nature.

Mother Nature reminds me of what it means to exist mindfully and in a balanced state of living.

Whenever I am in a city and I notice that I’m starting to feel disconnected from my surroundings and my environment, I call what I love about nature back into my heart as a supportive meditation and a mindful way to reconnect back to reality.

For me, the colors of the sunrise and the sunset are the best medicine.

The facts are relevant that Mother Nature is a good outlet when we’re feeling like our mental health needs a recharge. A recent Stanford study found that the best prescription to reduce our risk of depression is time in nature. [1]

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” ~ John Burroughs

If you’re an urban dweller and you’re feeling disconnected and exhausted from city living, try reconnecting with nature. Here are 20 ways that you can be in nature or with nature and let this powerful resource re-balance your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being:

1. Find a park with trees. Have a picnic with friends or pack a gourmet picnic for yourself. Treat yourself. Bring a big blanket, lay back and relax.

2. Do yoga outside. Find a yoga in the park event locally or get your friends together for group yoga outside.

3. Find high ground. Get to the top of a building or to high ground where you can spot blue sky and not just concrete jungle.

4. Buy a plant for your room, apartment, house and/or office space. Plants have a soothing and grounding effect and increase the amount of oxygen in the air you breath.

5. Take the scenic route. Whether you walk, bike, bus or drive. Take the route less traveled and the long way that will bring you by nature or a local waterway.

6. Explore a local attraction. Go to the zoo or the botanic gardens.

7. Rest. Cities are over-stimulating. Rest when you’re body needs to rest and kick your feet up.

8. Find adventure out your doorstep. Plan a day trip or a weekend trip to a nearby state park or national park.

9. Establish a regular mindfulness practice. Whether it be yoga, meditation or anything to help you re-ground and re-balance.

10. Buy a noise machine for your bedroom. The sound of waves, wind or a rainstorm may just help you to sleep better.

11. Find a quiet piece of nature. Practice Shinrin Yoku.

12. Find a farmer’s market and cook a completely farm-to-table meal for you and your friends or for your loved one.

13. Find a free event outside. I was just in San Francisco and watched an opera on the turf of AT&T Park.

14. Make it a point to watch the sunrise or sunset from a beautiful vantage point.

15. Take a lunch break and take a walk outside.

16. Slow down. Stop rushing everywhere you go.

17. Put your phone away when you’re out walking and see how many green things you can notice.

18. Read outside. Spend ten minutes, an hour or a whole afternoon under a tree reading a book.

19. Get to a local body of water (beach, river, lake stream) and take time to sit and listen to the movement of the water.

20. Ride your bike anywhere and everywhere you can. Not only will you get exercise but you’re spending less time in a moving vehicle and you’re reducing your carbon footprint.

 

 

 

 

 

Reference:

Jordon, Rob. Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature. Stanford News, June 30, 2015.

 

 

 

Relephant:

Review: mindfulness for urban depression

Author: Caitlin Oriel

Apprentice Editor: Jaimee Guenther / Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Youssef Hanna/Flickr

 

 

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