There are numerous studies showing that spending time in nature reduces stress and increases happiness. Any chance you have to spend a little time outside among trees is a chance to improve your mood and wellbeing.
- Don’t underestimate what is around you. Very few places are completely devoid of nature. There are trees, gardens, and parks in most areas. If nothing else, take a walk and seek them out.
- Pick up an outdoor sport. Having something to actually do outside will increase the time you spend in nature. Running and biking are the most common and translate easily to trails and parks. If you are more adventurous, you might consider hiking, kayaking, or rock climbing. Those can be dangerous so do your research first.
- Go to the beach. Most people think of the beach as sand and crowds, but it’s really an entire ecosystem. There are birds, fish, dolphins, sharks, crabs, jellyfish–more biological diversity than you are likely to encounter inland.
- Look at the stars. The vast, vast majority of nature is not on Earth at all. There are few places left that are far enough away from lights that the night sky is really visible. We rarely get to experience the awe of looking at the stars in a dark sky. Take a special trip to some place remote and try to find some constellations.
- Go camping. Camping is the full immersion strategy. You hike to a spot, you set up camp, and you watch for bears. Instead of a slice of nature, you get the whole pie. You hear the sounds and smell the smells. You’re not there to do anything in particular; you’re just there. If you want to get in the habit of getting up early, studies have shown that camping for two weeks will reset your circadian rhythm to wake you up at sunrise.
- Make nature your muse. Whatever your creative pursuits, try them outside. Painting and photography are perhaps the most obvious. A good nature photographer will wait hours for a shot. Writing in nature is another good option. Sit in one spot for an hour and write down what you see. You may be surprised how much you learn.
- Take up bird watching. Birds are fascinating and bird watching can accommodate many levels of interest. You can look out your window, or you can take a trip to the Amazon. Plus, bird watching is one of the few remaining fields where citizen scientists can have an impact.
- Plant a garden. Or rather, make your own nature. You can grow some potted plants on your balcony or dive in and plant a backyard garden. You can grow healthy things to eat. You can get a bit of exercise and there are compounds in soil that have been shown to stimulate the release of endorphins in the brain.
- Go fishing. Like oceans, lakes, ponds, and rivers are diverse ecosystems. Don’t underestimate the value of sitting and waiting.
- Take a guided tour. Most parts of the country have something outside worth seeing–caves, archeological sites, battlefields, geological formations. See what’s available in your area and sign up for the tour.
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