How to improve your mental wellbeing through nature

BY Rémy Dambron

1st Mar 2024 Wellbeing

4 min read

How to improve your mental wellbeing through nature
Discover how you can use the natural world to boost your mental wellbeing in this extract from Rémy Dambron's new book, Nature Therapy
When we talk about “wellness”, we’re referring to the general health and interconnectivity of our bodies and minds, which can be influenced by a number of lifestyle factors. The choices we make play a key role in determining our wellness, so choosing to do activities that care for our minds and bodies is more likely to leave us feeling happier and healthier. As you contemplate the direction of your ecotherapy journey, consider how the following elements impact your quality of life.
  • Emotional State: Some experts suggest that there are six basic emotional states: sadness, happiness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust. But your emotional wellbeing is more complex than any single state could wholly express, it is based on your mood and general attitude over extended periods of time, not just singular moments throughout. By bringing natural elements into your daily life, you’re maximising the emotional healing that nature can provide. 
  • Physical Health: We often associate markers like muscle strength, fitness, stamina and athleticism with how “in shape” we are, but our ability to achieve certain daily step counts and fight off the urge to remain sedentary can also be hallmarks of good physical health. Better still if that walk leads us somewhere wild. 
  • Spiritual Fortitude: This is your mental endurance, ability to motivate, find hope and slowly push yourself to try new things—where you tell yourself not to be afraid to extend the boundaries of your comfort zone
Nature’s resilience is contagious, and when we encounter difficult times it’s often nature that is best equipped to help us. If you open yourself up to the elements of nature, you will be able to better identify specific ideas throughout [Nature Therapy] that are most likely to match your interests and fulfil your aspirations as they relate to your everyday wellbeing.

When you’re short on time

In truth, we all have the same amount of time in a day; it’s how and where we allocate it that determines what we’re able to accomplish during its elapse. But we all have days when it’s hard to find even a few minutes to spare. Here are some fast and easy ways to bring the outside in for those days when time is short.
  • Use natural light as much as possible, especially on sunny days. 
  • Create several spaces for plants to live with you. Enjoy a community of succulents on a section of the counter, air plants suspended above your bed or a bouquet of fragrant eucalyptus during a hot shower. 
  • When it rains, turn off the sound on your devices, crack a window open and listen to it fall.
  • Burn candles/incense with woody, floral and coastal scents.
  • Hang pictures/paintings of natural landscapes and use images from nature as screensavers or backgrounds.
  • Decorate with organic elements like shells, chopped wood, rocks, flowers, pinecones and cactuses. 
  • Display fruits and vegetables in bowls made from clay, wood or stone.

When you live in the city

Urban living has many benefits, but it often separates us from nature, which can have negative effects on our emotional state. However, there are accessible places within urban areas to reconnect with Mother Earth. 
  • Find a patch of grass or visit a local park and have a picnic. 
  • Research bike paths to follow while you hunt for pet parks, public fountains and quiet places to take in scenic views. 
  • Locate outdoor courts/fields to practise sport. 
  • Take your coffee to go and meet friends for walks instead of sitting indoors. 
  • When the weather’s nice, grill a meal outside. 
  • Look for wildflowers along roads you take frequently and always keep an eye out for birds. 

When your resources are limited

One of the fundamental principles of ecotherapy is accessibility. Nature should always be easy to enjoy, regardless of your age, physical abilities, socio-economic status or anything else. While some regions may seem to offer more options than others, there are creative ways for those with limited resources to properly experience nature’s blessings. Here are a few to get you started:
Slow down 
Take a minute to breathe the fresh air and hear nature around you. Touch the grass, run through the sand, size up the trees, sit on a park bench and watch life around you.
Create your own escape
Get away from the sights and sounds of the man-made world, even if that means closing your eyes in your backyard and putting on headphones to hear recordings of tropical rainforests, rivers or oceans. 
Engage all your senses 
Give them all a chance to embrace you into the environment you’re in, grounding you to the present.
Identify natural patterns
What direction are the clouds moving in? What do they resemble? What shapes are recurring in plants and trees?
Look to the horizon 
When our eyes rest on distant scenes, our brains are able to relax and relieve stress. Taking a pause from your immediate surroundings will help create a sense of calm.
Share your experiences 
Sharing photos of your findings and tales of your excursions will help you recall those moments and appreciate the intention behind that walk you took or park you visited. It might even inspire others to join you sometime.
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Nature Therapy by Rémy Dambron is published by Vie, £14.99
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