If you’re feeling the urge to get into the great outdoors, you’re not alone. After spending weeks and months in lockdown, we’re all craving a little fresh air. While we’d love to head into the mountains or spend the day at the beach, you can still explore nature at home and reap the benefits of nature travel, like quieting your mind, boosting your creativity and appreciating our amazing Earth. Even if you only have a patch of grass or a balcony, here are all the ways you can reconnect with nature in your own backyard.
Watch nature at work
“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”Henry David Thoreau
If you want to reconnect with nature, the easiest way to begin is to simply observe. Too often we forget to pay attention to the sights, smells and sounds of nature around us, whether in our own backyard, the local park, or on a hiking trail through the forest. So, take the time to slow down and really observe nature.
Close your eyes and listen to the rustling of the leaves or the trilling of birds. Take a deep breath and notice the different smells. Open your eyes and take in the tiny details, like different shaped rocks or different coloured leaves. You could go cloud watching, star gazing, watch a sunset or a sunrise, start a nature journal or keep a moon diary.
However you do it, the important thing is to observe nature at work. You’ll quickly come to appreciate that Earth is a wonderful, complex system and we are all part of it. Once we learn that we are an equal partner with nature – not separate from it – we gain a deeper understanding and respect for nature and the critical need to preserve our planet.
Make contact with the earth
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”Thich Nhat Hanh
One of the best ways to reconnect with nature in your own backyard is to, literally, connect with nature. Go outside, take off your shoes, and sink your bare feet into the grass or soil. Enjoy a barefoot stroll, jump in a puddle or run through a pile of leaves, and think about how good it feels to have the earth connect with your skin. If it’s too cold to do that where you live, find a tree and place your hands on the trunk. You can even wrap your arms around it and give it a big tree-hug!
Nature has long been recognised by philosophists, scientists and artists for its healing qualities and reconnecting with nature is a great way to find a place of peace and relaxation. There’s also a lot of science to back up the benefits of spending time in the great outdoors. Studies show that direct contact with nature can improve mental health, increase psychological development, and reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
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Plant a garden
Find your green thumb and create a veggie patch or a herb garden. Digging into the earth with your hands will feel good, and so will growing your own herbs, fruit and vegetables to eat!
Even if you’ve only got a small space, there are plenty of ways to maximise your area and create a tiny garden oasis. You could start with some pot plants, a vertical garden bed, or even a compost to recycle your food scraps.
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Sleep under the stars
Have you ever slept under the stars? There’s nothing quite like gazing up at the beautiful starry universe, then waking up with the singing birds to watch a breathtaking sunrise. You don’t have to be an avid camper to enjoy this feeling – you just need your backyard and a tent!
Find a safe spot to pitch your tent – it could be on your grass, deck or balcony – grab your sleeping bag, a torch and some snacks, and spend a night with nature.
Make a haven for wildlife
Discovering the wildlife in your area can be a wonderful way to reconnect with nature. There are plenty of ways to do this, from going on a backyard bird watching expedition, following an ant trail, searching for butterflies, or observing the little insects going about their day.
If you don’t have many critters getting around your backyard, why not bring them to you! You can attract and protect wildlife by providing food, water, shelter and nesting materials.
To provide food and water, you could set up a bird feeder with native nuts and seeds. Or plant some native flowers that produce nectar, berries and pollen for bees, birds, insects and other animals. Install a birdbath, puddling area or even just a shallow dish with clean water for drinking and bathing.
For shelter, you can plant native trees, thick shrubs, wildflowers or install a rock wall. It’s important to always mimic their native surroundings as closely as possible. You can even put in nesting boxes to encourage wildlife to raise their babies in your safe space. Before you know it, you’ll have all kinds of creatures to watch and enjoy in your own backyard!
What are your favourite ways to reconnect with nature? Let us know in the comments below!