Nature is good for us. We know that.
Fresh air, sunshine and breathtaking views—they’re good for the soul. Can you agree?
Well, guess what. So does science.
In 2016, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that small aspects of nature dotted throughout the day positively impacted the lives of older adults.
That’s right. Indoor plants, trees along the sidewalk and other “nearby nature” significantly increased levels of satisfaction and happiness.
A 2017 study also found that wilderness therapy, outdoor-based behavioral treatment, influenced inpatient’s “positive moods, social skills, daily living and coping skills”.
From single moms to corporate businesswomen, research proves that we can all benefit from a daily dose of nature.
Want to gain more satisfaction outside of that first cup of coffee next Monday morning? Here are five ways for the average, busy adult to bring more nature to each day.
No hiking boots required.
Surround Yourself Plants and Flowers
You know those half jungle, half bedroom pictures you have pinned to your Pinterest board titled “Room Goals”? There’s a reason they look so inviting.
Research proves that the amount of greenery growing in your environment can greatly impact your mood.
Even when the best we can do is add a tiny house plant to the corner of our desk, window sill or nightstand—our brain notices.
You don’t have to have a green thumb to have a green home. Start with plants that are hard to kill, like cacti and succulents. They’re like the cats of house plants. Give them what they need, then leave them the hell alone.
You could also work fresh flowers into your weekly budget. Look at it as an investment in your mental wellbeing. Maybe one day health insurance will see it that way, too.
Soak Up the Sunshine
Am I the only one who has yet to lay out by the pool this summer? Basking in the sun for hours sounds great, but what about the 10 million more important things I could do instead?
When sunshine becomes a habit, it won’t feel so out of the way.
Turn off the sprinklers and step outside to water your plants. Stand on the back porch while sipping your morning coffee. Choose outdoor seating when out for lunch.
Another great way to catch more rays is to make it a family affair. After dinner, grab the strollers, the dogs, your spouse—EVERYONE—and go for a walk. Even if the sun is setting behind the trees at this point, you won’t regret it.
Sit By the Window
Some days, walks aren’t an option. We have errands to run, deadlines to meet, people to see.
So what to do? Press your nose up against the glass. Like window-shopping, it’s the next best thing.
You may not hear the birds chirp or feel a cool breeze, but your sense of sight is just as important for absorbing nature.
This may sound like a trivial step; however, research proves that the more nature in front of you, the healthier and more positive your mindset. I shake my head at all those years I spent studying in the dark corner of a coffee shop so I could “focus” better.
If you have the opportunity to watch trees sway in the wind while still being productive, opt for that window seat whenever you can.
Get Lost in Nature’s Soundtrack
I grew up listening to a CD of whale noises on repeat every night until I fell asleep. The soothing underwater calls gave my adolescent thoughts a break from the all-consuming preteen drama.
There’s a reason that most sound machines have a string of natural noise options: from jungle noises to ocean waves crashing on a beach. Natural sounds take us out of our modern-world environment—filled with pop music, podcasts and reality TV.
Listen to the birds chirping across the trees during rush hour. Play a deep-sea soundtrack in the background while cooking dinner.
This is one of the easiest ways to slip into the great outdoors from the comfort of your headphones. Search “nature sounds” on YouTube or Spotify to find your nature playlist of choice.
Create Your Own Natural Views
Views are powerful.
I’ve seen mountain ranges that call for a moment of silence; a desert sunset that could bring you to tears; and colorful canyons that make you feel like a kid again. The right landscape can cause a physical reaction, leaving you speechless and covered in chills.
But unless we’re traveling around the country in our car and waking up to a new, insta-worthy view every morning—these wild places aren’t in our backyard at all times.
So, let’s make nature work with the 9 to 5 life.
You’re reading this on a screen, right? Guess what—I’m not telling you to shut it off.
You can squeeze nature into the most “unnatural” of places. Follow nature-inspired social media accounts; change your screensaver to a green oasis; or make a Pinterest board filled with all your wilderness daydreams.
Daily doses of nature can improve our mental health. We can’t deny it. So, consider this your nature cheatsheet for every day life.
Remember: a little green goes a long way.