Few sensations in life rival the feeling of finding yourself at peace in the natural world. You know the moment—the one where you’re standing at the top of a hill you just climbed, a crisp breeze kisses your cheek, and you feel utterly alive.
One of the best ways to achieve harmony with nature is to participate actively in what it has to offer. Participating in nature’s stillness, its chaos, its movement, its cycles, and its power can help you become more in tune with your body and mind. Here are five ways you can improve your physical, spiritual, and mental well being by taking advantage of nature’s restorative powers.
Run along the beach, go for a hike, stretch on a patch of grass, walk through a park, swim in a lake, dance in your garden, or practice yoga beneath a tree. Whether you’re stepping over rocks and stones along a pathway, swimming amidst clusters of algae in the ocean, or balancing in a plank position on a tilted grassy incline, learning to adapt your body to the elements helps you become more in touch with your strengths and your weaknesses.
Spend your me-time outdoors
Think about how you like to rejuvenate yourself. Translate your typical me-time activity into one that is applicable outdoors. Instead of catching up on Netflix, taking a bath, or browsing the Internet, utilize nature as your environment for recharging. Read a book outside, sketch the landscape, listen to a podcast as you walk on the sand, play a portable instrument, float in a pool, dip your toes in a creek, or listen to music as you sprawl on the grass and take a nap. Making time for yourself away from the distractions of an office or home allows you to reconnect with your emotions and needs.
Follow nature’s pace
Take a cue from the natural elements around you. Move or be still according to the pace of life around you. Slow yourself down in the calm evening as the world hushes and pauses to watch the sunset. Let the bright, energetic morning hours invigorate you and motivate you to get your heart pumping. Adjusting to the forces of nature—like weather, time of day, and seasonal changes—teaches you to become more flexible, patient, and accepting of circumstances outside of your control.
Forgo happy hour at the local bar or Pilates at the gym with friends. Go outside with your loved ones instead to spend quality time. Barbeque in someone’s yard, bring a picnic to the park, play cards on the beach, start a game of Frisbee or football, go camping, or host a bonfire. Spending time outside with friends presents unexpected challenges and more opportunities for fun and adventure.
Find a quiet space outside in the fresh air and be still. You don’t need to practice a formal type of meditation to experience positive effects from sitting in silence. All you need to do is quiet your mind by focusing on your senses. Listen to the hum of a faraway car on the road, the bright whistle of a bird, the soft crash of waves. Feel the cool breeze tickling your skin, feel the stray strands of your hair blowing across your face, feel the sun heating your palms. Experiencing this period of calm allows you to feel gratitude for your very aliveness—for the fact that you can sit and simply be.
This article was written for Project Happy Hearts, an organization dedicated to supporting children with congenital heart disorders. PHH encourages people to follow their passions and do what makes their hearts happy! Plus they have really cute shirts. See the original piece here.