I’ve found (and science has proven!) that interacting with the natural world is essential to my health.
The moment I feel stress, anxiety, nausea, or a headache, I go outside with my dog.
The wind that brushes my face, the sound of the squirrels, chipmunks, and birds, and the sun’s warm rays instantly calm my nervous system and allow me to think more clearly. I’m lucky to live in the Rocky Mountains, but I know not everyone lives in Colorado and not everyone wants to.
It’s easy to forget that no matter where we live—in New York City or Tokyo or Siberia—nature is present. Bringing its benefits into your daily routine will prove grounding, uplifting, and energizing. Here are 50 ways I came up with, but leave me a comment with your own ideas!
- Take a breath. Take a few rounds. You are nature.
- Open a window, even if it’s cold. Put on an extra sweater and let the air come into your space.
- Go for a walk.
- Sit in the sun for 15 minutes. Let it touch all of your bones.
- Pick some flowers, bring them inside.
- Collect acorns or pine cones or leaves or rocks, depending on what’s around you. Organize them. Note their similarities and their differences. Keep them around until you no longer want to.
- Eat outside.
- Take photos of the natural world you live in. What trees, plants, and shrubs are around you? Which do you like? Which do you hate?
- Plan meetings outdoors.
- Look up plants native to where you live, then play I-Spy when you’re outside.
- Make a fresh, all-veggie meal using only seasonal, local ingredients.
- Go outside in the wind or the rain, let it permeate your shell.
- Find your nearest natural water source: creek, river, lake, bay, ocean. Sit by it for 15 minutes.
- Get a houseplant, and care for it as if your life depended on it. Learn its quirks, its desires, its needs.
- Gather wood for a fire.
- Chop wood. (It’s hard.)
- Learn to build a fire.
- Build a fire. (It could be in a barbecue/grill at your local park, a friend’s house with a backyard or fireplace, or local pub that has a pit. Check for fire bans in your county.)
- Take your clothes off and let the air breeze by your nipples. It’s unreal.
- Sit in silence.
- Look for spiders. There’s one right now within 10 feet of you. Don’t kill it.
- Think about your favorite time in nature. Write down the memory. Revisit it.
- Watch the sun rise.
- Look up your nearest state park. Take the easiest hike.
- What wild animals are near you? Watch them. What similarities do you share?
- Make shapes out of the clouds.
- Climb a tree.
- Plant a tree.
- Plant a shrub. (They get a bad rap.)
- Dig in the dirt. Plant some bulbs.
- Learn about your soil. We know more about space than we do about the dirt underneath us.
- Go outside and sketch what you see.
- Make a floral arrangement with irregular pieces: leftover flowers, oddballs, vines, branches, stuff you’ve foraged.
- Turn your lights off on the night of a full moon.
- Learn the moon phases.
- Listen to the wind.
- Make loose-leaf tea. Let it brew. Know what you are drinking.
- Stay hydrated.
- Submerge your body fully in natural water. Let it be ice cold.
- Rescue a dog. Let it be your best friend.
- Look for patterns: in weather, in plants, in creatures, in growth, in death.
- Shovel snow. Consider its weight.
- Turn your central air off. What is life like if not always 72?
- Moisturize your skin. It’s your largest living organ. How does it feel?
- Roll up your pants and wade in the water. Feel the riverbed, feel the stones beneath your feet.
- Memorize the way light moves through your home.
- Go somewhere you can be alone and uninterrupted outside. What do you feel?
- Sing. Let it reverberate through your body.
- Take care of what’s growing around your home.
- Visit a type of terrain you’ve never seen before.
- Find some boulders near where you live. Can you climb them? Can you hug them? Are they cold?
- Go out in the storm.
Okay, I lied, that was 52.