Although it’s intuitive, we now have more concrete evidence of the benefits of immersing yourself in nature. There are numerous studies that prove being outside in nature, and especially forest bathing, provides enormous health benefits including boosting your immune system, increasing energy, decreasing anxiety, depression and anger, helping you relax more, increasing concentration and even helping to lower your blood pressure.
You might be saying to yourself, well that’s nice, but I’m a busy person and I have a life to lead. I’ll try to get outside when I can, but I don’t need another thing to have to think about - I have enough on my plate.
Well, here are 7 super easy ways to integrate nature into your busy life.
1. Exercise outdoors
Instead of always going to the gym (concrete building), try switching it up a little and using nature’s treadmill: walk along a local trail - or simply around your neighborhood, jog in a nearby park - or even around your local high school track. The point is to BE OUTSIDE.
When we exercise outdoors it’s perceived as easier too because we’re in an attractive environment - and when we enjoy it, we have a good experience and we’re more likely to do it again.
2. Hold meetings/appointments outside
The next time you’re getting a team together, or you’re meeting a friend for coffee, consider doing it outside. Grab the picnic table near the cafeteria; sit outside at the coffee shop. Or, if you have a one-on-one session, try having a “walking” meeting around the company campus or neighborhood.
When you go outside you’re exposed to natural light and the many colors of nature. Studies on the effect of colors on our emotions have shown that we find the blues and greens of nature the most restful. They make us less anxious and reduce our stress levels.
3. Walk barefoot
I know it sounds crazy, but we’re spending way too much time in our shoes. Remember as a kid when you would run around barefoot in your backyard on the grass, or at the beach on the sand or at the playground in the soil - remember how great it felt? Well, it’s time to be a kid again. There are actual health benefits to connecting your feet to the earth’s powerful electrons.
The earth is like a giant battery with natural low-level electrical charges. You know when you say “I feel grounded, or balanced, or centered”, well that’s how your body feels when it’s in contact with the electrical charges of the earth - you’re grounded and in harmony with nature.
4. Take a “Forest bath” during lunch
Instead of sitting at your desk in front of a screen at lunch, take some time for yourself and go outside and just meander about. I mean slow and steady, not a brisk walk. As if you were “bathing”, stop and take in your surroundings using your 5 senses. Try sitting somewhere quietly, by yourself, with no distractions. 20 minutes a day can be very beneficial.
Take a deep breath and smell the air, the trees, and the flowers - inhale nature’s aromatherapy. Touch the plant/flower leaves around you, take off your shoes and feel the ground beneath you.
And if you’re stuck indoors, here are ways to connect with nature:
5. Bring the smell of the outdoors inside with Aera
Nature’s plants and trees have compounds called phytoncides, which are natural oils found in the plant that help protect it. The main components of phytoncides are terpenes and that is what you smell in the air. There are many essential oils that have these terpenes, including Cypress, Siberian Fir, and sustainable Ho Wood. Diffusing these oils indoors helps fight fatigue and tension as well as creates a calm and relaxing mood. Aera’s new Forest Therapy essential oil blend was developed specifically to provide some of these beneficial oils like Cypress and Ho Wood along with a host of other uplifting ingredients.
6. Fill your house with plants
Not only are they beautiful to look at (remember we love the color green), but they help get rid of the toxins in the air and help keep up humidity levels to support our breathing and skin. We are also more productive and creative when we work where there are plants.
Importantly, indoor air is low in negative ions (they are good for you) mainly because of electronic devices like TVs and computers, which suck them out. Plants give off negative ions and help purify the air - negative ions bond with and remove dust, mold and bacteria - which makes it healthier for us to breathe.
7. Take a green “micro-break”
A study from the University of Melbourne showed that spending as little as 40 seconds looking outside at nature can help restore concentration. Another study from the University of Rochester found that just a brief glimpse of the color green before doing a creative task is enough to increase creative performance. So go ahead, stare out that window and you will start to feel restored.
We all need to connect with nature, and finding the time can be hard. But hopefully you see that by taking just a few simple steps every day, you’re well on your way to supporting your health.
Frauke Galia is a Certified Professional Aromatherapist, member of the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists and founder of F.A.L.K Aromatherapy. Frauke is passionate about educating and empowering people to engage with their sense of smell and harnessing this under-appreciated sense for our wellbeing.