Healing power of nature

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Urban forest
This weekend I had the pleasure of attending Wild and Well Festival in Bristol.  It offered four different themes: Move, Explore, Connect and Eat, with workshops, panel discussion, fitness classes, and demonstrations across five venues.  For me, the theme of nature and being outdoors kept cropping up as I thought about my happiest moments, what calms me, and why I take on crazy fitness challenges.  I also learned about the Blue Mind movement, which has sparked my interest as marine biologist, personal trainer and health coach.  After the NYC Marathon, I will be reading up on these in my down time and sharing the highlights with you here on the blog and on social media (click on pink circle to the right to follow me).

It absolutely makes sense to me that being outside and connecting with nature can have healing powers.  This really became clear to me after visiting Cape Town in February 2017.  Two weeks in the sunshine and one week along the sea changed my outlook on life.  I now know I need to be outside as much as possible, with a good dose of Vitamin Sea to be content, as well as ample sunshine.  I found a sense of calm and enjoyed being alone in my thoughts while visiting South Africa.  Part of this was due to a semi-digital detox without a SIM card to stay connected when away from my hotel.  Think about how much time you spend each day being bombarded with emails, phone calls, text messages, meetings, and personal space invasions while on public transport.  Removing technology can make a big difference in how you experience your free time.

Taking the path less traveled
As I spent Sunday outside in the chilly sun of along Bristol's harbor side, I realized how hard it can be for people living in cities to find ways to be in nature and/or unplugged.  Available green spaces in cities might be small, with audio stimulation from traffic and visual stimulation from people walking by. Areas with water, such as rivers, streams, canals or reservoirs, are even harder to come by when landlocked.  When was the last time you sat alone in the woods or a field and took in your surroundings?

Walking wild
If you make an effort though to visit nature, maybe not daily, but at least once a week, (and leave the phone at home), it will help calm your body and mind.  City life is overstimulating.  Being alone in nature can help combat the effects.   Here are some tips on how to find and enjoy the experience of nature healing:
  • When you get to an open green (or blue) space, turn off any music you might be listening to and silence your phone.  Listen to wind, trees and birds around you.  Breathe deeply and listen to your breath.
  • If you live in London, walk along the towpath in the early morning when it is least busy.  Look at your surroundings rather than down in front of your feet.
  • Flotation therapy, such as that offered by Floatworks in London, is where you float in super salty water in a pod which allows for sensory deprivation in a meditative state.  You will experience physical and mental relief of life's stressors that occur outside the tank.  This is a great option to try if you cannot find green space or water near where you live.
  • Consider a train or bus journey to the woods or coast for a day trip off the grid.
  • Book an active holiday where you bike, hike, swim, run, or camp.
Capri length can be a good options in the spring and autumn
  • Dress appropriately so you enjoy the moment rather than worry about rain or temperatures.  I know I can be miserable if I am too hot or too cold!  The Jack Wolfskin tank show in the photos is great for warm days and for layering in the autumn.  The cut is very flattering for someone who has wider hips, like me.  Capri length trousers (such as the ones in the photos by Jack Wolfskin) are helpful too when the seasons are changing and you aren't sure if the temps will be the same in the afternoon as they were in the morning.  You never know what will happen so have some layering options in your bag if you can, including hat, gloves and rain jacket.
  • Look at the plants and wildlife as you explore.  See what you recognize and what you need to learn more about.  You might want to pick up a flora or fauna guide to help you identify what you saw during your time in nature.
I love having my dog with me on my walks
Do you ever feel the urge to be explore in green space?  How do you feel when your phone is off and you are alone in your thoughts?  What is your favorite part of being out in nature?  Leave a comment below and let me know.

Thanks to Simply Hike for providing me with the Jack Wolfskin kit to review.  All opinion are honest and my own.

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