It’s predicted that two thirds of the world’s population will live in a city or urban area by 2050. With all the hustle and bustle that comes with an urban lifestyle, it’s sometimes easy to forget the natural world that’s still out there.
The link between our health and nature is growing in interest; particularly as the world’s population and urbanisation continues to rise. So, have you ever actually considered the impact nature can have on your health, wellbeing and happiness?
Health benefits of nature
Though the evidence base is quite small at this time, spending time in nature has a huge range of potential benefits to your wellbeing, such as:
Pitching a tent and watching the kettle boil can take you back to the simpler pleasures in life. Some research has also indicated that it can be helpful for a good night’s sleep because you’re away from artificial light that can disrupt your natural sleep patterns. Being outdoors allows your body clock to realign with the natural light of sunrise and sunset.
Get involved with a conservation project
Volunteering and getting together with other people for a good cause can increase your sense of wellbeing and purpose. It’s also a great way to meet new and like-minded people. There’s likely to be lots of projects and groups happening in your local area that you can get involved with.
Grow some veggies and herbs to put in your meals
Fresh mint, chives and basil are delicious additions to meal times and easy to grow in your own garden. They are also quite easy to grow in pots on a balcony or patio area if you don’t have a big garden. You could also grow some fruit and vegetables like chilli, tomatoes and rhubarb too.
Plant flowers that will attract butterflies
According to the RSPB, butterfly-friendly plants and flowers include the following:
Spring: Lady’s-smock, Bugle and Goat willow
Summer: English lavender, Marjoram and Coneflower
Autumn: Iceplant, Ivy and Michelmas daisy
Then sit back and relax as you watch beautiful, multi-coloured butterflies flutter around your garden.
Go on a nature walk or take part in a nature survey
Explore your local woodlands while looking out for birds, fish, squirrels, frogs and insects. If you’re taking part in a survey you may be asked to count and report your sightings.
Take time out to look up at the stars, spot comets or watch different phases of the moon. Some areas offer stargazing courses, or you can read up online about the different constellations and activity happening in the sky.
Eat al fresco
Eating outside is a great way to relax and a good break from the routine of watching TV with your dinner on your knees.
Visit a city farm or local wildlife spot
If you live in an urban area, see if there’s a local city farm nearby. It’s a nice place to take the kids and see donkeys, goats and rabbits. There might even be opportunities to volunteer too.
How to bring the outside in
There are also lots of ways you can bring nature into your home too.
Use natural fragrances such as spraying lavender or jasmine on your pillow at night or buy some scented candles.
Decorate your home with green plants. If you’re worried about keeping them alive, go for cacti and succulents which are easier to care for. Or you could even get some artificial plants.
Arts and crafts
Collect natural materials and display or make something with them. Gather driftwood, sea glass, shells, pebbles and feathers, for example.
Use a photo of your favourite natural place as your screensaver on your phone. Every time you look at that memory of the beach it will give you a little lift. Take a second to close your eyes, take a deep breath and be transported back to that moment. You could also put some photos up around your home to remind you of your happy travels.
Buy a floral duvet set or cushion to bring some colour into your bedroom or living room.
Sounds from the natural world
Listen to natural sounds such as the waves, rain falling or sounds of animals in the jungle as a method of relaxation. Close your eyes and drift away to somewhere exotic.
Watch nature programmes
Watch a nature documentary. Some research has suggested that watching a nature programme can have the same benefits as doing meditation. So on that final note, enjoy this clip of David Attenborough saying boo to a sloth.
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This information was published by Bupa's Health Content Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition.
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