Nature is not just beneficial to our kids
When was the last time you spent some quality time immersed in nature?
How regularly do you do this?
As parents, we all hear the endless pleas from child psychologists and other childhood development professionals to ensure our kids are given plenty of opportunities to play and explore the outdoors, but did you know how beneficial ‘plugging into the planet’ can be for you?
Connecting with nature has an array of benefits for our bodies, our brains, our overall wellness and life satisfaction. Sadly, parents tend to underestimate the amazing benefits of having brief and regular contact with nature for themselves, and not just for their kids.
Studies have shown that by simply looking at an image of natural environment, as opposed to an image of an urban concrete street, reduces stress and improves your mood and energy levels by allowing the brain to dial down and rest, like an overused muscle. This is because your brain understands that natural environments contain highly complex sensory inputs and innately refuses to interpret or make sense of them, so it relaxes. And that’s just by looking at nature!
While browsing nature photographs or watching a nature documentary is likely to improve mood and help you de-stress, getting outdoors and connecting directly with natural environments provides greater benefits.
After just 20 minutes of spending time in nature, the following effects can occur:
- – reduced muscle tension
- – reduced heart rate
- – decreased blood pressure
- – improved concentration
- – improved immune functioning
- – positive emotions and mood
- – increased levels of happiness
- – decreased anxiety
- – improved memory function
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how amazing these benefits are to a busy parent! So let’s get to how you can make sure you’re reconnecting with the world around you on a daily basis.
12 Simple Ways to Plug Into The Planet
- 1. Simply sit within a natural surrounding
- 2. Go for a walk/run/bike ride to move your body within nature
- 3. Wiggle your toes in the grass
- 4. Sink your fingers into rich, crumbly soil in the garden
- 5. Watch sea foam wash over your feet as you stroll along a beach
- 6. Get outside on your lunch-break
- 7. Go for a picnic
- 8. Swim in a natural body of water (lake/river/ocean)
- 9. Do some gardening
- 10. Pick and smell flowers
- 11. Go fruit picking at a local orchid/farm
- 12. Go stargazing
The possibilities and opportunities are endless! In this beautiful country, most of you would have access to some form of urban park, community garden, conservation area, or backyard. Nature experiences in these spaces offer opportunities to take many parts of your daily routine from indoors to outdoors quite easily.
Weather is Bad? Try these 5 great ideas!
- 1. Put on some gumboots and a raincoat, and splash about in the puddles!
- 2. Open a window and let some fresh air into your home
- 3. Nurture an indoor garden; windowsill herbs or hardy succulents are great options
- 4. Sit by a window with garden views
- 5. get up and watch the sunrise, or pause to watch the sunset
Throughout the course of motherhood, there are a variety of reasons why you might feel disconnected from your world. The most notable is in the early stages of your journey, where some mothers can feel like they are in ‘baby jail’; unable to live outside the 24/7 duties of meeting the fundamental needs of their young infants.
But beyond this time, you can also feel detached well into parental leave, when you’re at home looking after your children when they are sick, when family members and friends are away for extended periods of time or when your partner is away at work more often than usual.
Lack of connection from the people that are normally around you is probably the most noticeable cause of feeling lost or alone as a parent, but there are less obvious detachments that occur that can also contribute to feeling this way; detachments from things and experiences that help remind you of who you are, what you love, the emotions you are experiencing and your very worthy existence in this world.
We often don’t give ourselves the time to rediscover who we are, now that we are parents. In the ongoing chaos of parenthood, you can also forget to regularly reconnect with the things that nourish and ground you as an individual human being; the things in life that can make you feel fully alive and awake.
In addition to loneliness and isolation in parenthood as a result of losses of friendships and reduced contact with other adults, parents can also feel alone in their world as a result of not being in it.
There is a tremendous amount of power in the relationship with nature. As humans, we have an innate desire to connect and seek out natural surroundings, but the chaos of life as a parent can suck away the little windows of time that you might otherwise use to be outside. Nurturing your nature relationship will not only promote relaxation and restoration, but bring awareness to your ‘aliveness’ and connection to the complex, yet wondrous, environment within which you live.
So what are you waiting for? If the choice is there to get out or stay in – choose Nature and Plug In!