The truth is, many of us know that being in nature is important and we have every intention to incorporate nature in our daily routine, but sometimes, time rushes by and we struggle to change our habits.

I strongly believe that in order to get the benefits from nature and to learn to respect it more, one first needs to learn to truly grasp its importance and appreciate its presence. We all know the feeling of looking out from a balcony and seeing a patch of trees, or plants, then one day seeing it turn to dust and into another building or driving along a road full of trees on one day and in an empty road the next. Whether we agree on some choices or not, we all know the feeling of missing nature at times. My fear is, the more distance we place between ourselves and nature, the greater the struggle to get back to it.

So here are a few of many benefits that nature can have on our mental & physical health; along with a few tips on how to incorporate nature into your own life. Screen shot this list when you need a reminder to make more of an effort to incorporate nature in your life.

The below are all research based benefits of seeing, hearing or being out in nature:

  • Spending time in nature helps us recover from work related mental fatigue
  • Activities out in nature can help reduce symptoms of ADHD in children
  • Time in nature can improve both work performance and attention (even 10 minutes)
  • Helps ease symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • improves self esteem
  • improves your mood & mood regulation
  • encourages you to be more active

I do urge you to do your own research so you can find reasons that are truly meaningful to you; the more you resonate with something, the more likely you will start doing it.

Now, here’s how to incorporate nature into your life, and I promise it will be doable. Remember, you need to foster a connection with nature that will ultimately come, well naturally to you.

  • Images. Yes a simple image has been proven to have a similar impact to being in nature. So between zoom meetings, look at a beautiful image of nature for at least 40 seconds. Check if you can add more nature related images in your workspace, maybe even a simple calendar.
  • Plants. easy one. add some plants, not only do they look nice, you will ultimately learn to take care of them and increase your connection to nature.
  • Sounds. Whether you are an adult or a kid, or teaching kids…incorporate nature sounds into your life, your work, your classroom. It is better than honking horns on the street and can ease stress and improve concentration.
  • Eat lunch outside, especially on a sunny day. Sunshine is nature too.
  • Make a list of close by go to spots for when you have some free time. A meeting got cancelled? great, now you know there’s a pretty public garden 10mins away from your office.
  • Learn more on Local plants and wildlife. There are so many books, articles and even guided tours of local areas. The more you know about the natural habitat you are surrounded by, the more protective you will feel about it, and the more you will enjoy saying ‘I saw a beautiful patch of crown daisies yesterday.’
  • Basically think of all the senses, we already mentioned seeing images and hearing sounds. Also think about incorporating natural scents in your surroundings to get the benefits we mentioned!

Here’s a bonus one for the more adventurous:

  • cook with wild, edible herbs and flowers! Once you learned about what grows on our island, try making a wild nettle soup, or a wild herb pesto! Not only will this encourage another walk in the countryside but will make you feel so fulfilled, being truly a moment of realisation that we are part of nature.

The world can feel rushed and frustrating sometimes, and while it is important to fight for big change, let’s not forget that the little changes and habits are the best place to start!

Michaela Pace is a Psychology graduate from the University of Malta. She has worked with children and adolescents within the social sector and currently works as a Triage Officer and Volunteer Manager with Willingness Team, while pursuing a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy.