There is a wealth of research that shows the positive effects of nature in our lives.
The Japanese have a nature based practice called Shinrin-yoku which translates as forest bathing. This is the practice of walking slowly through forests, taking your time and really soaking up the whole of environment. Their research has shown that having contact with nature can help us enter a state of physiological relaxation.
Taking time out in a green space is associated with many benefits, including:
- reduced feelings of stress and a general sense of wellbeing
- increased relaxation of the body because of increased activity in the parasympathetic nervous system (our body’s calming system)
- reduction in blood pressure
- improvement and boosting of mood
- accelerated recovery from surgery and illness
There is also the compassionate mindfulness practice of taking a Sense and Savour or Pleasure Walk. Here the aim is using all your senses notice as many pleasurable things as possible, taking your time, one after another while walking (could also be done sitting).
Start off by settling into your body, getting in touch with the rhythm of your breath, or your feet as they touch the ground. Then focus in on and really take pleasure and delight in your experience and your surroundings as you walk or sit. This might be warmth of the sun on your face, listening to birdsong, appreciating the colour, shape or scent of a wildflower, feeling the bark of a tree, your feet on the ground. Take your time and really savour your sensing and explorations.
Why not treat yourself to a ‘mental tonic’ courtesy of nature? Try some forest bathing or have a pleasure walk (or sit). Explore your local park, nearby woodland or beauty spot. Or even bring the outside in with flowers or plants. If getting outside is difficult, watching nature inspired videos or looking at lovely nature photographs can also give you some of the benefits.