Quality time outside counts

Quality time outside counts

On Monday I heard my first Chaffinch. I knew it was a Chaffinch because I decided to start to learn birdsong a few years ago. I love noticing how although the Chaffinch song is roughly the same everywhere I go, there are regional differences. 
 
I also love knowing that when I listen to birdsong, the soundwaves travel into my brain and trigger chemical signals that make me feel better. In that moment, the birdsong has become entwined with who I am.

Quality time outside is critical to good mental health 

🌿 Quality time in nature has been shown to play a large part in our wellbeing; it is critical in supporting good mental health and preventing distress. 🌿
 
Yet many of us feel we have to be super outdoorsy to enjoy connecting with nature – and the ‘outdoorsy’ images we are fed mean we feel we:
  • 🏕️ 'should’ be taking our families on wholesome camping trips
  • 🥾 going for long hikes
  • 🌲 meditating in a forest for a few days
While all of these things are amazing and will have long-lasting benefits, they are more one-off experiences and that don’t fit into daily life.

Find moments of quality time with nature on your doorstep

Yet if it is quality time outside that makes a big difference to our sense of connection to nature and our wellbeing, then we can find these moments on our doorstep. 🏡 All we need is to shift our loving attention to the beyond-human world with curiosity and wonder.
 
According to the Mental Health Foundation:
 
🌿 “Research has shown that people with a strong connection with nature are typically happier in life, as nature can generate many happy emotions, including calmness, joy and creativity. Connecting with nature is also associated with lower levels of poor mental health, including lower depression and anxiety.” 🌿
 
Given all that is going on with the world right now, I think we could all do with a strong nature connection.

Quality time outside roots us into place 

It makes sense to me. For millennia we humans evolved in relationship with our local ecosystems – we had to for survival.
 
Today, many of us are not indigenous to a particular land. Our indigeneity was uprooted a long time ago. We feel separate - even the words ‘human’ and ‘nature’ imply a separation. Yet we are nature. Our atoms were forged in the same long-dead stars as those of the trees, grass, air, birds around us. 🌟 
 
🌲 Rooting ourselves back into place and remembering our deep relationship with the earth helps us to feel part of a greater whole again. It is where we feel complete. It feels like returning home. 🌲
 

How to improve the quality of your time outside with nature

The most helpful thing I have found for fostering QUALITY time outside is to have a focus – a blossom tree, a daffodil, a nesting bird, a local river – and then to keep coming back to that focus and noticing with all my senses what is happening. 🌸 The blossom is about to burst, it has burst, the petals feel like silk, the petals are falling, the leaves are growing, the leaves smell fresh, the wind is rushing through the leaves, the berries are ripening, the birds are eating the berries…
 
🌸 🐦‍⬛ These little acts of noticing bring us in closer relationship with the beyond-human beings in our local areas. And the more we do this, the more we are taken out of our own anxieties and worries and the more we realise we are part of something greater. That we, too, are made of stardust. 💫
Read the blog on 3 simple habits to get you spending more time outside
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