Make yourself comfortable, maybe you can grab a cup of delicious tea, it’s time for a little read...
The smell of the earth right after the rain, the warmth of sunshine on your face, peeking through the canopy of trees in the forest, the soft touch of moss, the profound feeling of relaxation while watching water flow down the creek in the mountains. Buried toes in the warm sand, rhythmic melody of waves crashing against the cliffs or gently brushing the shore…
There’s no denying it - Mother Nature has her beautiful ways of mesmerising and soothing us.
We all experience the healing power of spending time in the wild. Since early childhood, we were taught to go play outside and breathe in fresh air because it’s good for us. A walk in the forest is one of the oldest remedies for just about anything - a headache, a low mood, a heartbreak, some deep reflections, making an important decision and the list goes on.
However, we don’t do that as often as we used to, right?
We live in cities and we spend our days being busy stuck in traffic, glued to the screens or working in air-conditioned, closed spaces. According to a study conducted by Gregory Bratman and his colleagues, urbanisation has been associated with increased levels of mental illness, including depression. We have never been further from nature, and at the same time, our ecosystems have never been more fragile…
“Perhaps if we felt more connected, we would be more inclined to protect the world and less inclined to exploit it”, says Christina Thompson-Yates in her article. Many studies show the positive influence of nature on our mental health.
A simple 90-minute walk in a natural surrounding reduces levels of anxiety, feelings of depression and fatigue. By having a daily walk in a park, we can increase the feeling of happiness and peace as well as build our sense of resilience to stress.
Lucy Jones, science journalist and the author of “Loosing Eden”, dedicated a significant portion of her life to studying the intricacies of the natural world and our general sense of well-being. She found out that playing with the ground and getting our hands dirty while gardening (or even repotting plants) can actually benefit our mental health.
A species of bacteria, mycobacterium vaccae, found in the soil stimulates the brain to produce serotonin, increase stress resilience and suppress inflammation. The serum with this bacteria has been used to immunise patients who have lung cancer, who reported feeling happier. Pretty impressive, right?
How to reconnect with the natural world, then?
What can we, city dwellers, do to get closer to the abundance offered by the wilderness?
One interesting idea that has been gaining popularity and more prominent attention is the concept of a progressive approach to conservation called rewilding. It’s been described as a way of “letting nature take care of itself, enabling natural processes to shape land and sea, repair damaged ecosystems and restore degraded landscapes”, according to Rewilding Europe.
The idea of letting go of human control, accepting the fact that nature itself knows best ways to not only survive but also thrive and allowing those natural processes to take place by stepping back is deeply moving and beautiful in its simplicity.
In return, rewilding can ensure our well-being. Humans simply rely on the natural world, and when it’s healthy, we thrive as well. However, this process takes time and space, just like anything good in life. In order to see progress, we need to be patient.
I want to invite you to try and learn from nature’s mindful way of being.
Patient. Nourishing. Trusting. Caring. Connected. Considered. Balanced.
Next time you’re outside in the park or a forest, or even in the concrete jungle of your city, look at the trees, observe the subtle intricacies of the natural world. Feel the smell of the air near trees or freshly cut grass, the temperature and crispness of the air, the sunlight or cloudiness.
Inhale, exhale and connect to the world that you belong to.
Let’s rewild ourselves!