For many of us during the pandemic, spending time outdoors has become a life-line to sanity and emotional health. But when the weather is not cooperating, finding ways to connect with the natural world can be more challenging. Spending time in nature can improve our mood, reduce anxiety, and increase the quality of our sleep. While going for a walk in the rain can be a deeply nourishing activity when done with intention, it is not always practical. Here are 5 ways of connecting with nature that don't require that you get wet. You might not even need to leave your couch!
Listen to a guided nature meditation: If you can't go outside, the next best thing is imagining yourself being outside. While our brains can tell the difference between reality and imagination, emotions and sensations activate the same regions in the brain as actual experiences. Imagining yourself having an experience can have many of the benefits of having that experience in real life. There are many guided meditations available in paid and free sites. One of my favorites is http://natureguidedmeditations.podbean.com/. Consider supporting their Patreon site if you like them!
Journal about a nature experience: Similarly to guided meditations, journaling can help you re-live and savor a memory. The simple act of journaling is also proven to have many benefits on mental health, including lowering blood pressure, improving mood, relieving anxiety, and countering depression.
Connect with your indoor plants: gardening is known for its positive effects on mood, emotional regulation, and stress reduction. But just because you can't get your hands in the dirt, doesn't mean that you can't benefit from indoor gardening. Watering your plants, trimming leaves, and just being near them can improve your mood. Studies also show that being surrounded by plants have positively remind us to take better care of ourselves. So go ahead, next time you want to treat yourself, reach for the Peace Lily instead of the pound cake at the supermarket. Your mood (and your waistline) will thank you!
Indulge in contemplation of a natural object: Next time you are out on a walk, pick up a beautiful item from nature you can use for contemplation. The benefits of contemplation to foster well-being have been known for thousands of years in cultures around the world. Contemplation includes practices like meditation, forest-bathing, mindfulness, and just paying attention. When you can't go outside, pick up one of the objects from your walk, and take the time to observe it. Pay attention to the shape, texture, and color. Does it have a smell? Hold it in your hand. What does it feel like? You will be surprised how a few minutes of mindful attention can completely transform your mood!
Watch a nature documentary: It might be pouring outside, but watching a nature documentary can be a wonderful way to connect with nature. According to a recent study from the University of Exeter, "watching nature documentaries significantly boosts mood and wellbeing, reduces feelings of sadness and alleviates negative feelings of boredom associated with isolation and lockdown".