How to Reconnect with Nature
Feeling the urge to improve your wellbeing and connect with the great outdoors? Here’s your sign from the universe that you should start doing so.
by Erika Jeffrey / 2021-09-09
We're all guilty of it. These days, spending time in the great outdoors - and relaxation in general - have likely taken a backseat in our busy lives.
Unfortunately, our 'urgent' email inboxes and pile-up of daily responsibilities trick us into believing that every task on our to-do list is so important that we can’t take a moment for ourselves. But when was the last time you actually stopped to smell the roses, or to marvel at the delicate, colorful wings of a passing butterfly? These simple moments of beauty seem out of reach in today's fast-paced tempo.
To combat this, we’ve handpicked tips from the experts on how exactly we can deepen our spiritual connection to nature, gathered from some of the best books and courses on Uptime, in order to strengthen our mental wellbeing and live a more fulfilling life in general.
Remember the days of running through yards, climbing trees, and skipping stones? Those good ol’days don’t have to be things of the past. Our playful connection to nature seems to have been robbed by our day-to-day obligations and jobs. But we can still reclaim what is rightfully ours, and enhance our spirituality in the process.
Simon Barnes helps us realize the trap we’ve created for ourselves. Here are the major takeaways from this revitalizing book:
- We’ve forgotten our wild side.
Before modern times, humankind would spend the majority of their lives outside. Living off the land. Hunting. Gathering. Exploring. But it seems the cities we’ve built cast a shadow on our relationship with the wilderness, and even our own human nature.
We have all heard the studies of how immersing ourselves in nature improves our mental and physical health. Yet we don’t access it as much as we should. Why? We’ve since been programmed to sit at our computers and stare at phones to tune out and be “productive.”
Unfortunately, many of us have taken that too far and lost our connection to nature. The key to spark creativity and make a real difference in the world lies in nature. Take the time to activate all your senses and notice the natural world around you. Remember what Ferris Bueller once said:
- Observation is key.
Lately, it seems we’re always going a million miles a minute, failing to notice even the birds singing outside our windows. But observation and awareness go hand-in-hand; when you learn how to observe, you open the doors to a deeper connection with every living thing around you.
It’s not as hard as you’d imagine to flip the switch back on to tune into our natural state. The wild part of ourselves is more innate than you realize - the smallest effort and tweak can be enough to jog your memory and tap back into your wild side.
- Expand your exposure and explore a new environment.
(Wow, alliteration for the win.)
As human beings, we tend to gravitate towards the 'known', the things that feel familiar, otherwise known as our comfort zones. But have you ever considered stepping outside of what's familiar to you? It is outside our 'safety' zones where the real fun and growth can happen.
Simon invites you to open your horizons and take a look at things from other perspectives; he suggests embracing the weather and to try new things.
Take snorkeling, for example. All you need is a pair of goggles to explore the landscape of the underwater world of oceans, lakes, or rivers. Even if you don’t want to dive in, a boat ride to see places from a different vantage point can also be exhilarating.
To find out more, read our Rewild Yourself summary on Uptime here.
This book teaches us how we can become more grateful for all the gifts Mother Nature gives us - but from a slightly different perspective from other sustainability titles you might know about.
In this book, Robin Wall Kimmerer teaches us how to treat the Earth as family, instead of draining its resources. As a Native American and environmental biologist, she brings a unique perspective on how to face the environmental challenges that pose a threat to our planet.
Here are some of the topics that will help you take a more mindful approach towards the environment:
- Native American culture focuses on respect and care for nature and wildlife.
In the Western world, there tends to be a disconnect when it comes to our relationship with nature. We often take, but forget to reciprocate. But when a friend does us a favor, we often return it. Why don't we have the same agreement with nature?
For example, the next time you eat a piece of fruit, think about how you can 'give back' to nature and say thank you to it for providing you with something to eat - i.e., by planting a seed for a new fruit tree. If you need to get rid of clothes, why not repurpose them or donate them instead of adding to the landfill. Small steps like this are mindful ways to notice the delicate balance of our world.
- Everyone has a role to play in promoting world peace, sustainability, and harmony.
At a glance, it looks like we’re headed in the right direction to combat environmental issues. On a deeper level, greater sustainability pacts are the only way our Earth can reap real benefits in future.
Reciprocation is a big takeaway from the Potswatomi tribe. Try giving back to the Earth by taking less from it, or by reducing the waste you create.
- Educate young minds to respect and protect the planet.
Education is one of the most important gifts we can give the next generation. Teaching our youth about the benefits of respecting the planet is the best bet to put us on the right path.
With climate change threatening our environment every day, it’s imperative to teach our kids the importance of having gratitude for our planet. Educate them about endangered species and the fragility of ecosystems. Explain how and why we recycle.
Encourage healthy habits with kids when they're young. Garden with them. Take walks in nature. This will instill a sense of responsibility to respect and protect the Earth as they grow.
To take a deep dive into these lessons, have a look at our Braiding Sweetgrass summary on Uptime.
Getting plant envy from all your friends' pictures of cacti and flourishing indoor peace lilies, snake plants, or fiddle leaf figs? Not sure what on earth any of those words mean? Find out how you can start nurturing your own indoor garden with scientist and full-time gardener Ekta Chaudhary.
A lot of us have tried – and failed – to keep our little green buddies alive in our homes. Not anymore. Here are some of the lessons you’ll learn from Ekta Chaudhary to improve your gardening game, welcome the great outdoors into your home, and find out how to cultivate your green thumb:
- Some plants aren’t as thirsty as others.
Confession: I have overwatered my plants before. (Pretty sure we can all sheepishly raise our hands to this one.) Yes, overwatering is a thing. Use this course to find out the secret to how much water your plants actually need.
The time you decide to water your green pals isn’t as important as the frequency. This is a vital component to the longevity of a plant. Overwatering or drying out the plant is a high risk if you don’t know how often to water them.
Quick tip: an easy test to see if your plant needs water is to touch the top of the soil. If some dirt sticks to you, it’s fine. If it’s super dry and nothing sticks, time to break out the watering can.
- Imitation is flattery. Create an environment that plants can thrive in.
There are ways to simulate the perfect growing conditions for your plant friends. Lighting can be tricky. But we can manipulate the other two elements that plants depend on for survival: soil and water.
It’s best to stick to foliage plants for indoor environments. Sunlight is hard to control, and artificial lights can only go so far. When it comes to indoor gardening, avoid flowering and fruit plants. They require specific sun rays to survive - but leafy plants play nice with indoor lighting.
- Turn the tables on the urban environments that aren’t conducive to cultivating edible food.
If you live in a city, you may have noticed a lack of bees and other insects that assist with pollination. Those tall buildings are working against you in that regard. They restrict airflow and limit the wind that is also associated with pollination.
There is good news. It’s easy to grow self-pollinating plants such as tomatoes. You can give them a little shake so they pollinate each other. If you want to add some color and extra tasty herbs to your garden, marigold and basil are a good choice.
For more tips on how to build a sustainable indoor lifestyle, have a look at our Indoor Gardening course summary on Uptime.
When we deprive ourselves access to nature, we lose out on all the wonderful gifts she has in store for us. So cut down on your social media time, step outside, and breathe in the fresh air. Your mind, body and soul will thank you for it.
Psst - inspired to learn more about the great outdoors? For more tips on connecting to nature, why not check out our summary of The Hidden Life of Trees?