How to Heal With Nature: 6 Ways to Get the Benefits of Natural Healing
While I was looking for inspiration for today’s blog I came across this quote by Rachel Carson.
“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature-the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
It got me thinking about my most favorite topic – nature and spirituality. I don’t see one being without the other. If anything, my spirituality is nature. It’s the feeling of Existence, being One with all that is around me. And, that includes the moon, the stars, the rocks and pebbles, the rivers, dams, and lakes, the ocean, the wind, and all living creatures be it plants, animals, and other human beings.
But Rachel Carson’s beautiful quote also got me thinking about nature and its healing powers. It’s too easy to take our natural environment for granted and barely take note of its beauty that surrounds us even when living in the concrete jungle.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I’m always rejuvenated when I’ve been in nature.” I myself know that the only place that restores my soul is nature. Ideally, it would be in the bushveld far out of town or at the ocean. But, if that’s not possible, then my garden does the trick.
Read on as I talk about the healing powers of nature and how you can use it to restore your soul and give you back a sense of balance, harmony, and peace when life gets you frazzled!
The Healing Powers of Nature
If you haven’t heard of forest air-bathing, listen up because it’s hugely beneficial to your overall well-being. Japanese researchers have discovered that phytoncide, a volatile compound released by Cryptomeria japonica plantation forest has been shown to reduce stress while inducing relaxation in rats.
Surely this would work the same way for us humans?
Back to forest air-bathing. By walking through the forests and taking in the surrounding natural atmosphere with your senses, you’re connecting with the healing properties of the plants and other components of this environment. The mere act of walking among the trees will relax and destress you, bringing you back to the moment, and taking you away from all the technology we’re surrounded by 24/7!
Sitting in the sunlight is known to increase your Vitamin D levels and improve your melatonin compounds so you sleep better at night time. But there are so many other health benefits to spending time outdoors in a natural environment:
Lowers blood pressure
Decreases the stress hormone level
Minimizes the risk of cancer cells growing in the body
Lower levels of inflammation
Decreases anxiety and depression
Improves ADHD symptoms
With all these amazing health benefits provided by Mother Nature, you wonder why concrete jungles were built in the first place but I won’t go there now! For us bunny huggers it’s incomprehensible but I guess we’re not all such mad nature lovers. And, the world must go on!
How to Get All the Benefits of Nature (even when you live in the city)
Not all of us are fortunate to be living in the countryside. But, this is no excuse for not getting the natural healing benefits of nature. I’ve already written about ways to connect with nature at home, whether you’re living in the city or not.
Here are some other ways to get you outdoors and improving your overall wellbeing with a touch of nature.
1. Find a Park
Research has shown that human interaction with green spaces is beneficial physically, emotionally, and mentally. I also add spirituality to this list. Fortunately, cities around the world have realized this and have always ensured there are urban parks for people to use.
My daughter, who lives in Beijing, tells me there are magnificent parks throughout the city and there are always people jogging, cycling, walking, playing, or simply sitting while enjoying the natural outdoors.
Here, in my own hometown, we have lots of parks to visit. When I was working for an NGO, I was fortunate to be working in the middle of one of the biggest parks in Johannesburg. I can’t tell you how many times that park saved my life! Whenever life got too stressful in the work environment, I would take a walk among the trees. I only needed to be in the park for 10 minutes and already I could feel my body calming down.
Australia is full of beautiful green spaces, both parks, and gardens for families and individuals to spend time in the fresh air. A quick search on Google tells me that New York has dedicated 27% of its land to parklands while Singapore ranks high at 47%. Moscow has 54% of its land allocated to protected green space. That’s pretty impressive.
2. Spend a Day in a Forest (or with a tree or two)
Okay, this one may be more challenging for us city folks, and for many of us, it may mean a drive out to the nearest forests, but if you can do it then do it. I’ve already spoken about the benefits of being in a forest atmosphere so spending a day in a forest is certainly worthwhile.
That being said, and for us folks who simply can’t get to a forest unless we book a few days off work (no problem with that actually!), then find some trees. Trees alone have been shown to reduce stress levels and there’s always a tree somewhere.
Every park I know has a few and most cities have trees planted on the sidewalks. And, if you have a garden at home, I’m sure there’s a tree or two?
All you have to do is stand next to a tree, hug it, sit under it, or brush your hand up and down its trunk. I promise you; it won’t take long before you notice yourself feeling calmer, happier, and peaceful. The soothing energies of trees will also lift your energy levels giving you more zest and a sense of optimism again.
And, while we’re talking about the benefits of trees, a social study has shown that there’s less crime in city areas planted with lots of trees. Makes sense when you realize the healing powers of trees.
I love this T-shirt from Earth and Co. Apparel!
3. Spend Time Next to Water
The sound of water has been known to soothe a frazzled mind. And, sitting close to water be it a river, lake, or ocean is beneficial for restoring your soul. Even your swimming pool will do or a little pond in your garden. Whatever it is and wherever it is, commit to spending time next to water outdoors.
Most green spaces in cities will have a small pond or dam that you can walk along or spend time quietly sitting and contemplating life. What’s more, the birdlife around water areas is a wonder to watch and enjoy. Even those geese who come waddling for your piece of a sandwich will lift your heart and give you a sense of joy.
On the weekend, my brother told me that he found a beautiful waterfall in one of the busiest suburbs of Johannesburg. He and his four-year-old son were strolling through a hidden park when they heard the sounds of tumbling water. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw this beautiful waterfall. The sight and sounds delighted both his and my nephew’s senses and they both were fully rejuvenated to face another day in the city.
4. Grow Your Own Herbs
Herbs are so easy to grow and you don’t even need a garden to do it. You can grow most herbs on a sunny windowsill or balcony if you have one. Herbs offer many therapeutic remedies be it through their aromatic oils, making a refreshing cup of tea with lemongrass or mint, or soaking in a bath with a lavender (simply tie a bundle of lavender to the spout and let the hot water run over it.)
Herbs have many healing properties and you can add them to most meals. I love tossing handfuls of fresh coriander into curries and soups, some rocket and parsley to salads, and making basil pesto. I make smudging sticks with dried rosemary and lavender twigs for cleansing the air in my home.
And, whenever you feel like it, break off a small piece of parsley or mint and chew on it for a fresh breath. Herbs really are one of the natural wonders we can all grow easily and have at arm’s reach whenever we want them so get growing and benefit from these wonderful plants.
Here's a lovely idea with this Barnyard Designs Herb Pot Planter Set to use on your indoor or outdoor windowsills.
5. Keep Flowers in Your Home
Did you know that by simply looking at something beautiful you’re elevating those feel-good hormones in your body? Try it the next time you see a beautiful flower in bloom. You’ll notice almost instantly how much better you feel and if you allow it, you’ll even begin to feel joyful.
Flowers do that for me and recently I planted out 30 seedlings of bright and cheerful violas in our garden. They bring me so much joy every time I go outside, even more so because the days are getting colder as the winter settles in.
If you have a garden, sow a few packets of seeds for colorful flowers. These Sow Right Seeds come in a variety of flowers such as zinnias, marigolds, and Cape Daisy (from my home country).
I have also become addicted to orchids and I always make sure I have a flowering orchid in our home. These stunning blooms simply lift my soul whenever I see them and at once, I know I am healing.
6. Accept and Embrace the Seasons
Accepting and embracing the seasons can be challenging for me when it comes to winter! But, each season plays a crucial role in helping our bodies to rest, become creative, or simply to BE. I’ve, in recent years, have come to realize that winters give me the respite I need from constantly trying to stay on top of things.
The colder weather forces me to almost hibernate and while I can’t do it literally because I want to keep on working and doing what I love, I’m gentler about the kind of pressure I put on myself during this season. During the winter months, I work shorter days and get more sleep. I don’t stress about socializing as much as I prefer staying home on weekends and catching up on reading.
Spring is the time for renewal for most of us and this is the time our bodies awaken and feel surges of creativity and excitement within our souls. It’s a wonderful time to implement new ideas, bring in the new, and prepare for long hot summer days.
Summer brings me alive and this is when I am most productive. The creative spurts that started in spring carry me through the summer months. I’m up early to enjoy the energies of dawn and I stay awake until the late hours of the night.
Autumn is a nostalgic time for me and it’s a time of reflecting on how much growth there’s been on my journey and preparing for the hibernation of winter around the corner. By accepting and embracing the seasons, I’m letting Mother Nature heal my body as she sees fit according to the natural cycles of the seasons.
The healing powers of nature can’t be ignored. It’s about reconnecting with our natural environment through our senses and letting the magic happen. Our bodies revel in the fresh air, the sounds of water, the aromatic smells of plants, the taste of healing herbs, and the touch of both living and non-living things.
Do yourself and favor and get out into nature today. Your mind, body, and soul will be restored once more so you can live a more balanced and harmonious life.