How to connect with nature... inside
Updated: May 5
Our modern lifestyles have us quite disconnected from nature. We live indoors, most things around us are man-made, many of us work in offices, the food we eat is often far-removed from its natural source... You get the idea. We’re not as closely connected to nature as we used to be years ago. Add lockdown into the mix, and this becomes even more true!
So how can we improve our connection to nature… when we’re inside? It may seem impossible, but there are in fact many ways we can bring our experience of nature and appreciation for it indoors.
Listen to nature sounds
Nature sounds help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the state your body needs to be in to relax and heal. You can find nature sounds on Spotify, YouTube and various meditation apps.
If you live in the countryside, you might be able to hear sounds of nature from your home, in which case make the most of it! Open your window early in the morning, and you might just be treated to a symphony of birdsong you’ve never quite appreciated before.
We all have a creative part of our brain, and we’re innately wired to create. This is a wonderful thing when it comes to nature, as there’s so much we can do to connect with our environment in new ways.
Perhaps you draw, sketch or colour. Maybe you paint the colours, shapes and patterns you can see. Journal about an experience you’ve had in nature, adding doodles to remind you of what it was like. Or even browse Pinterest for some craft ideas using natural materials!
However creative (or uncreative!) we feel we may be, we all have the ability to put pencil to paper and create something. Using these skills encourage us to be mindful, pay attention to what we see around us, and utilise the creativity that’s inside every one of us. Let your imagination flow forth!
Visualisation is a powerful practice for allowing our mind and body to relax. In fact, the same neural pathways in our brain are activated while visualising something as when that something is really happening. So if we're visualising a peaceful place in nature, even if we’re not physically there, we still receive the experience and benefits of being there.
Close your eyes and imagine a place in nature that allows you to relax and feel peaceful. It might be a beach, a forest, a field, somewhere you’ve been to before, or a completely made-up place… Picture this setting in your mind, and practice tuning into your senses. What would you see, hear, smell, feel and taste in this place? Really experience being in this setting in your mind, allowing your body to relax and be at ease.
If it feels challenging to visualise by yourself, you can find guided visualisations on YouTube and meditation apps.
Grow your own
If you have a garden, rooftop or porch, perhaps you could try planting and growing some vegetables and herbs of your choice. If you don’t have an outdoor space of your own, there are many varieties you can grow indoors too.
It takes perseverance to tend to seedlings over time, which makes it all the more rewarding when your veggies are ready. You learn loads along the way too, helping to cultivate a better understanding of the way nature works. What a great way to incorporate fresh produce into your cooking as well!
What would this list be without mindfulness? Simply looking, observing and paying attention to our surroundings is a simple way to connect with nature, wherever we are. If you’re not able to go outside, you can practice this by looking out a window, looking through photos or being around plants in your home.
So often we only notice that, for instance, there’s a tree. We don’t consider the journey that tree has been on, how long it has stood so strong, how amazing it is to continue growing taller each year. Nature is an incredible teacher, and mindfulness offers a key to greater appreciation for and understanding of it.
If you are able to get outside for a walk or you have a garden, you might also try a guided mindful walking meditation. This is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness and experience your surroundings more deeply.
Pick some flowers
For a super simple way to bring the outside in, pick some flowers whilst out on a walk and put them in a vase with some water on your windowsill. This couldn't be easier, especially if you have access to somewhere green nearby.
Our environment plays a huge part in how we feel, and this includes the objects that surround us. Flowers and greenery can really help to reduce stress, boost our mood and help us to feel calmer. Research has also found them to have positive effects on our sleep, creativity, overall health and life satisfaction. The healing properties of nature are incredible!
Picking flowers also offers a different way to be mindful when we are able to spend time in nature, encouraging us to open our eyes and see what we can find. Tap into joy and happiness by picking a few next time you're out and about.
Opt for natural materials
The concept 'biophilia' is all about our innate human tendency to interact and connect with nature. We can bring this concept into our home by choosing natural materials, calming colours and sustainable, eco-friendly furnishings. You could even learn some DIY skills and make your own items for your home!
Bringing nature in offers so many benefits for our wellbeing and brings us closer to nature, even when we’re not physically outdoors. When we know how something has been created and where it’s come from, we usually have a much greater appreciation for it.
The power of colour
Colours can have a profound effect on us physically, mentally and emotionally. The colour green is symbolic of nature and the natural world, for many invoking images of grass, fields, trees and forests. Perhaps for this reason, it's found to be a very calming, soothing and relaxing colour.
As well as being linked with nature, green is associated with growth, health and harmony. With this in mind, bringing the colour green into your home environment may be another effective way to connect with nature.
In what ways could you bring this colour into your living space? Some ideas might be indoor plants, putting up photos of nature, or even getting creative with some painting... the options are endless here, from canvas to wall!
So there we have it. A variety of ways to connect with nature… inside, from anywhere. Give these ideas a try and see how you find them. I’d love to hear your suggestions too!