5 Intentional Ways to Bring Nature Therapy Indoors
After three days of constant rain, I feel myself starting to go a little ‘cray cray’. I miss my daily walk up the country road where I live. Not surprisingly, I come down with a cold and by day three it turns into a headache. Does this happen to you? After days of not venturing outside, your health starts to deteriorate?
It makes a lot of sense, given that being in nature or green spaces is scientifically proven to promote good physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
Don’t despair. I have some tips for bringing the benefits of nature indoors, so you can enjoy the sensory experience even when stuck inside.
1. Pot up the pesky weed and bring it inside.
Plants are not only a visually pleasing and calming addition to your home, but can be a great source of air purification. Two of the best plants to remove indoor toxins and chemicals are Mother in Laws tongue (a weed in the garden) and the Peace Lily. With increased oxygen levels in your home, you will also breathe easier.
Houseplants also reduce the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs. Put a plant on your desk to give your eyes a rest from your computer screen, boost concentration and be more productive. One study showed that hanging out with indoor plants can increase memory retention up to 20 percent. Weird but true.
2. Knock on Wood.
A lot of research has shown that using wood indoors in the form of furniture, fittings and features helps us to relax. Simply running your fingers across a wooden benchtop can calm your nervous system, lower your heart rate and reduce brain activity, promoting an instant soothing effect. The smell of naturally dried wood has a similar effect and can be replicated by spraying some essential oils such as cedarwood, siberian fir or eucalyptus around your home. Always choose naturally dried wood products, not heat treated wood for your home as the aromas produce very different results. A good excuse to treat yourself to a new chopping board!
3. Create a nature table.
Dig out that shell collection in your bathroom, then go gather some stones, pine cones, feathers, or other forest finds that bring you pleasure. Not just for kids, a nature table or basket is a good ‘go to’ to distract us when feeling stressed, anxious or depressed. In this situation, pick up something that attracts your attention, find a place to sit, and just explore this treasure with your sense of touch, smell, hearing and sight. Notice how this feels in your body. Notice what memories arise for you. Does this natural object have a story to tell? Allow yourself time to be mindful and present. Let feelings arise and fall away. Just notice without judgement.
4. Uber some fresh cut flowers.
There isn’t a human being around that doesn’t get pleasure from admiring and smelling cut flowers. But did you know that flower arrangements also offer physical benefits too? Simply looking at fresh flowers in a vase has been shown to decrease the sympathetic nervous system response to stress and increase physiological relaxation responses. A similar result is experienced when smelling floral essential oils, inducing relaxation and comfort. So go pick a wild bunch and knock yourself out.
5. Bring nature imagery inside.
This is a great one, particularly if you live in an apartment in the city, or have very little green space around where you live. Science has shown that showing prisoners photos and videos of forests, glaciers and waterfalls reduces tension, improves sleep and results in less violent angry outbursts.
Install some nature artwork, change your screensaver to a majestic landscape or watch a nature documentary. Or simply close your mind and put yourself in your favourite natural landscape. The brain doesn’t know the difference between real life and mindful imagery. You get similar mental health benefits either way!
So if you’re stuck indoors, know that nature with all its healing properties is there for you. Go out there and invite it in. Do it mindfully with intention and purpose.
Miyazaki, Y. (2018). Shinrin-yoku: the Japanese way of forest bating for health and relaxation. Octopus Publishing Group, London.
Rokas, L. (2017). ‘NASA Reveals A List Of The Best Air-Cleaning Plants For Your Home’ at https://www.boredpanda.com/best-air-filtering-houseplants-nasa/
University of Utah, ‘Nature Imagery Calms Prisoners’, https://phys.org/news/2017-08-nature-imagery-calms-prisoners.html
This post is shared with permission from Lucy’s original blog at …metaphorically speaking.