“Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.” ― Mary Oliver
Nature is healing. I have found a regular connection with nature to be very therapeutic and a key requirement for my own well-being. By “nature” I’m referring to the parts of nature that I have an opportunity to connect with regularly like the ocean, local streams and mountains, regional parks and the plants in my home and garden. By “healing” I’m referring to the stress it alleviates, mind it calms, mood it lifts, exercise it inspires, connection to community it builds and resilience it strengthens.
Research to support the healing effects of nature includes:
- The importance of green space for promoting mental health
- How a green exercise environment can benefit all
- View Through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery
- The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku
- Attention Restoration Theory
Here are suggestions for how you can make connecting with nature a part of your day at work:
- Schedule a lunch-time walk daily, even if it’s just for 10 to 15 minutes. Choose a “nature” route to exercise your body and activate your senses.
- Now that it’s spring, head outside to eat your lunch. Find a spot with a scenic view and recharge your battery while you nourish your body, mind and spirit.
- If you work by a park or some open green space, get some colleagues together to toss a Frisbee around or play some badminton during a break.
- If your workspace has access to a window, situate your desk so that when you look out it you see nature.
- Display nature themed art and quotes on your walls and as screensavers.
- Listen to nature-themed soundtracks while you work as background music.
- Bring nature inside by growing “easy to care for” plants in the office.
- If your workspace has access to an outdoor area suitable for gardening, plant up some containers with easy to grow vegetables and herbs. Have colleagues share in the responsibility of caring for them and then everyone can harvest the benefits come lunchtime.
- For your next team building session, plan an outdoor activity of some kind like a company picnic, hike in the forest, outdoor yoga session, or treasure hunt.
As a Therapeutic Horticulturist and Mental Health Instructor, I am trained to use plants, nature and nature-based activities like gardening to promote social connection, health and well-being. Connect with nature, it’s already part of you and you part of it. You’ll feel better for it.