Reconnecting - How we can find our way back to Nature

Nature teaches us to accept ourselves just as we are
Studies have shown that people’s body image improves when we spend time in nature. Perhaps this is due to our lack of distraction from social media, TV, and advertising. We are constantly bombarded, often subconsciously with messages that often leave us feeling like we are not enough – not beautiful enough, not smart enough, not funny enough, not likeable enough, and so on.

Nature displays an incredible array of diversity in all its glory. There are fat trees, skinny ones, tall ones and short ones. Yet we do not judge these aspects of nature, we admire them. We can observe and accept their uniqueness. This perception can allow us to welcome a sense of ‘non-judgement’ towards ourselves in this web of interconnection between all species.

Our attention span improves & ‘we come to our senses’
Spending more time outdoors nurtures our natural innate creativity. The University of Michigan studies have shown that after just an hour interacting with nature, memory performance and attention spans improved by 20%. We become more present as we immerse ourselves in nature and find our sensory awareness deepens. We quickly begin to become aware of our surroundings - using sight, sound, touch and smell – we can use time in nature to tune back into our senses.

Grounding is defined as placing one’s bare feet or hands, or indeed any part of your bare skin on the ground, it can be onto soil, grass, sand or concrete. When you ground to the electron-enriched earth the nervous system becomes more balanced. Your immune system and circulation also improves when your body has an adequate supply of electrons. It is known that the Earth maintains a negative electrical potential on its surface. When you are in direct contact with the ground (walking, sitting, or laying down on the earth’s surface) the earth’s electrons are conducted through your body, bringing it to the same electrical potential as the earth.

It is in our DNA      
We do not have to look far into history to know that humans evolved in natural settings and were deeply connected to their ecological environments. The ‘biophilia hypothesis’, popularised by Edward O. Wilson, suggests that we are hardwired to need time in nature because we evolved in nature. Our need for nature is literally hardwired in our DNA.

Spending time in the real world
In today’s age of high technology, research shows that our hunger for the natural world still endures. In fact, our connections with nature could just be the best medicine for people of all ages - improving our health, happiness, and well-being. Those same connections could also heal the planet.

Vitamin D
Having an insufficient amount of Vitamin D affects almost 50% of the population worldwide. An estimated 1 billion people worldwide, across all ethnicities and age groups, have a vitamin D deficiency (VDD). The increasing deficiency in vitamin D can mainly be attributed to lifestyle (for example, reduced outdoor activities) and environmental (for example, air pollution) factors that reduce exposure to sunlight, which is required for ultraviolet-B (UVB) - induced vitamin D production in the skin. Vitamin D is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight. The good news is that a little can go a long way: just 10 minutes a day of mid-day sun exposure is plenty, especially if you’re fair-skinned.

The cycle of life
Our natural body rhythms are called circadian rhythms. These signals affect every aspect of our life, for example, they govern when to wake up, to sleep and to be active. They determine how much energy we have, influence how we socialize and how we feel. Many people live their lives cut off from the natural rhythms and cycles of nature and of their own bodies. They no longer rise with the sun and they may stay up until the wee hours of the morning. Their pace of life is such that it is inconsequential whether it is night or day, winter or summer. The phases of the moon go unnoticed. Even the stages of their own life go unnoticed. This plays havoc with their body-clocks.

Taking some time out can help us to recognise the ebb and flow through the seasons. We see the times when the plants and animals are sleeping and times when they are slowly coming back to life. Being aware of these patterns in nature can help us to connect to our own natural rhythm.


Seven Keys to reconnect with Nature

We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate to us. When we choose to strengthen and nurture our connection with nature externally, we are also strengthening our connection to our true selves internally.

Prepare for all weather
Exercising in nature can improve your mental health in as little as 5 minutes.
Investing in rainwear is a worthwhile purchase when living in Ireland. It allows us to embrace the elements with ease and comfort.

Take a stroll through your garden or street with an awakened and alert sense of curiosity
Visit your local park for a stroll, find a ‘sit spot’ and take a few moments to become aware of all your senses. Perhaps connect with a tree you feel drawn to, rest your back against the tree’s trunk to ground and strengthen your body. Become aware of your breath and become present in nature. Enjoy observing surrounding smells, sight, taste, touch and sounds. Notice the bird sounds, plants, hedgerows and trees rustling and crackling in the breeze. Feel the touch of the air upon your skin and sense into it, what does it feel like?

Visit the sea, rivers, lakes, and streams
The human body is made of approximately 75% water, so it makes sense to spend time connecting with this element. There is something undeniably uplifting when we taste and smell the sea breeze. The sound of the waves crashing on the shore can really soothe the soul.

Create and plant an edible garden at home or join your local community garden
Planting a seed and watching it grow is a deeply satisfying practice. Gardening is one of my favourite past-times: Whenever I am feeling ungrounded or under the weather just a short period in the garden helps me to re-root and anchor my energy. The joy of simply getting your hands stuck into the soil.

Learn about foraging wild foods
This is one of my personal favourites, though be sure to carry a foraging handbook and take samples and check them out before you start eating anything. The joy and excitement in gathering food and medicines from the wild is something I highly recommend you try. Ireland is an incredibly rich land. For example the humble nettle is a good place to start when foraging. A soup made from the new growth of nettle is a great way to nurture your liver and keep the body strong during the winter months.

Star Gazing
Astronomers say there are 300 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone. Close your eyes and imagine what travelling through space must look like. It should be on everyone’s bucket list to, just once, stargaze in an open field, on a clear night, away from the city lights, like our ancestors used to do.

Switch off to tune in
Gift yourself time away from your mobile phone and portable devices. It is important to allow yourself time to be alone and this includes disconnecting from our cell phones which are becoming more and more of a distraction in the modern lifestyle. A Digital Detox is a designated period of time where people stop using their digital devices - smartphones, laptops and tablets. The benefits of digitally detoxing have been widely researched, and include reducing stress and anxiety, strengthening relationships with family and friends and increased creativity.

About the author: 

Angie is based in Co. Wicklow and is passionate about living a sustainable lifestyle in harmony with her natural surroundings. Angie runs retreats from her home as well as running Digital Detox courses at Dunderry Park.
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