Mindfulness and nature are tools to help with stress and anxiety.
In the current environment of uncertainty and division, it’s no surprise you might be feeling anxious about life. It’s all too easy to get caught up in anxious thoughts, worrying about the future, and living out worst-case scenarios in your head.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can develop practices that can put the mind at ease, release tension, and provide a break from daily concerns, stress, and anxiety.
Nature, in particular, offers innumerable opportunities to take a break from a troubled mind.
There are some amazing and simple ways you can take advantage of the gift of nature to ease your worries.
Whether you live near forests with creeks and trails, reside in a suburban neighborhood, or look out on a gritty urban cityscape, nature is available in abundance if you look for it.
Find your nature place, a spot where you can get present with your natural surroundings; a tree, a leaf, a flower growing out of a crack in the sidewalk, a blade of grass. Engage all your senses.
First, allow your vision to soften as you take in the shape of the tree, the colors of the leaf, the light reflecting off the flower, or the texture of dew on the blade of grass.
Then, while still taking in the image, listen to the surrounding sounds, focusing on what you find pleasant. Even seek out the silence between the sounds. Spend a few moments being mindful of sounds and silence.
See how many of your senses you can involve in the process, engaging touch, taste, and smell, if possible. If you do this daily, you may find the delight it brings naturally softens the worry, if even for a moment.
Mindful presence helps you to slow down and relax the nervous system, calming anxiety and stress. You can use mindful presence in nature to get a double-whammy of goodness.
Find a pleasant experience in nature, one that brings you joy. It can be the sight of a butterfly flying, branches moving in the wind, the shape of clouds, or the sound of birds chirping.
Make it a daily practice to stop and take 20 seconds to absorb the experience. Really take in the experience of the butterfly flittering around, the sway of the branches, or the variation of the bird calls.
Add an intention, such as, “I release all worry of what I have no control over.” By involving both mindful awareness and intention, you’re giving you mind new calming thoughts to focus on, rather than the repetitive-stress thoughts.
Over time, you may notice that a daily practice of 20-second mindful and intentional nature breaks can have a powerful impact on your perspective and well-being.
If you have ever sunk your feet in the sand at the beach or walked on the grass with your shoes off at a park, then you know the feeling of pleasure you can get when your feet make contact with the earth.
Touching your bare feet to the ground is quite literally known as “grounding.” Grounding can have innumerable benefits ranging from calming your nervous system to increasing a sense of well-being.
According to an article published by the National Center for Biotechnology (NCBI), researchers found that grounding contributed to a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol, which resulted in better sleep, improved moods, and a reduction in anxiety, stress, and depression.
So, the next time you are near a patch of grass, a bit of sand, or even a muddy lawn or dirt, go for it and ground yourself.
These are just a few ways you can benefit from connecting with nature to ease anxiety. Try one and see how you feel. Your mind will thank you for it!