Sunday, May 18, 2014

Small Step Sunday: Connect with Nature

Humans evolved to co-exist with nature. There are direct psychological benefits to spending time in nature. A 2013 article by British researchers published in Global Environmental Change used a unique GPS based collection method to study the effects of nature on happiness. The study found that "On average, study participants are significantly and substantially happier outdoors in all green or natural habitat types than they are in urban environments." 

A pretty yellow flower at Leu Gardens in Orlando

My personal experience has always been that nature has a calming, grounding effect on my feelings. One of the reasons I chose to move to Orlando was to have weather that would allow me to spend a lot of time outdoors and in the sunshine. An article from Psychology Today titled "Does Nature Make Us Happy?" discusses several other current research findings about this topic if you're interested. 

The Blue Ridge Mountains, photo taken outside Asheville, NC.

It isn't hard to find opportunities to connect with nature, even in urban environments. Many cities have parks, nature gardens, and other dedicated green spaces within the urban setting. The photo of the flower I posted above was taken at Leu Gardens in Orlando which is right in the middle of the city. 

One of the many gorgeous beaches of Curacao

Here are some easy ways to get time in nature:

  • Take a walk or a hike
  • Ride your bike in a new area
  • Go for a scenic drive and stop to take photos when you feel inspired
  • Find a park or beach to have a picnic
  • Invest in some cheap outdoor games like bocce ball or lawn darts
  • Sit on the beach with a good book
  • Take a child in your life or the child in yourself to a playground
  • Sit in outdoor spaces at your home when you're reading, writing blog posts, or playing on the computer
  • Find an outdoor fitness class
  • Look for local festivals and events held in parks
  • Sit quietly outdoors in your favorite setting and listen to the birds

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