Is anyone else ready for some serious time in nature? As I (Julie) write this, we are in the middle of a stay-home mandate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In our area, that means the state parks and most of the trails are closed. Word is the outdoor areas will open soon, but even so, we are asked to stay close to home - which means nature time is still limited for the foreseeable future. Hmmph!
Not only is this frustrating, but it can actually be bad for us to not connect with nature. Folks in the know tell us that lack of nature time can lead to issues like increased anxiety and depression, and even lowered immune systems.
On the other hand, time in nature has all sorts of benefits - from giving us a boost of Vitamin D, to increasing our creativity, to restoring mental focus, to boosting our energy. And it just plain feels good!
So what are we to do when we’re stuck at home? How do we get our precious nature time?
It’s easier than you might think! We’ve put together a list of ways to connect with nature, whether you’re stuck at home due to government mandate, or just can’t get out of the house very often.
The following ideas certainly don’t replace spending actual time in nature, but sometimes you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do!
Sounds have the ability to transport our minds. Try listening to a soundtrack of ocean waves, a rainstorm, or crickets on a summer evening.
There are plenty of apps available with lots of wonderful nature soundtracks. I find the Naturespace Holographic Audio app to be an excellent option. The sound quality is best with headphones, but still lovely without.
Learn about Naturespace at naturespace.org or search for their free app in for either iOS or Android.
Did you know that many of the national parks, game reserves, and other wild spots around the world host live-stream videos? They are a perfect way to spy on animals, catch a beautiful view, or even listen to the sounds of nature live.
Here is a list of nature filled webcams to get you started -
Here is just one of the Africams for your viewing pleasure!
Even the sounds are magical!
Another cool way technology is allowing us to experience the outdoors without actually being there is through virtual tours. Click HERE for a huge list of National Park virtual tours put together by Google Arts and Culture.
Like sounds, smells also have the ability to transport our minds instantly to another time and place. Essential oils have the added benefit of positively impacting our well-being. When I am missing the outdoors, a whiff of pine, cedar, or other woodsy oil can instantly transport my mind into the forest.
Plant Therapy is my favorite place to purchase essential oils. They are a small, family-run business in Idaho making exceptional quality oils at good prices.
Here is my personal referral link. Use it to click through to their website and you will receive $10 off your first purchase of $25 or more. CharlesCockburn.com/PlantTherapy
Why not spend an evening reading a book filled with nature? Fiction books and memoirs set in the woods are a wonderful escape. Or spend some time learning something new about nature with a non-fiction option.
I’m currently reading “The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs” by Tristan Gooley. It’s a lovely book filled to overflowing with tidbits about understanding the signs that nature leaves for us to discover. Another fantastic book filled with laugh-out-loud moments is Bill Bryson's "A Walk In The Woods."
Whether you have a yard, a deck, or just a window, you can invite nature to visit. Put out a bird feeder to attract local wildlife. Or better yet, a few flowering plants. They can not only add natural beauty but just might attract a hummingbird or two!
A few simple natural elements can transform a space from cold and sterile to inviting and uplifting. A small arrangement of dried branches in a clay vase, or a few dried leaves displayed on a mantle can make a big impact.
While you are bringing nature indoors why not consider growing something? Houseplants are a simple way to bring nature inside, while also helping to filter and clean the air. Aromatic herbs are another fun idea. They make for a fresh and tasty addition to your meals, and also help your space smell amazing.
We are obviously fans of nature photography around here! Our home is filled with images from some of our favorite spots. Why not add a photo or two to your home? A fine art print featuring a rugged mountain, peaceful stream, or scenic landscape is sure to brighten your space and add that natural element.
Here are just a few of my favorite nature photos from the Charles Cockburn Photography collection
If you are lucky enough to have outdoor spaces around your home, be sure to spend time in them every day - even if the weather is less than ideal. Take 5 or 10 minutes and engage all your senses. You’ll be amazed at the transformation those few minutes can make on your spirit!
If it’s possible in your area, try to spend some time outdoors away from your house. A walk through your neighborhood or on a local trail can go a long way toward filling your nature tank.
We hope you will give a few of these ideas a try! God created us to experience His creation, and when we are stuck inside, separated from the natural world, it can feel like we are suffocating. Fortunately, with a little intentional creativity, we can easily bring nature inside to brighten our days and lift our spirits.