I’m writing these lines as I’m sitting on a riverbank. Birds are flying, the wind is blowing, and water is slowly flowing in front of me. Could it get any better?
Well, surely, it’d be nice if I didn’t have to listen to the noises of the city. On the other side of the river I can see cars, and houses, and people walking, but here? Here it’s still quiet despite all the distractions from outside.
And that’s why I pulled out a pen and am currently writing it down.
You have to go out. At least once in a while.
I know, nowadays it’s a tricky call for action. Regulations are different for all of us.
Everyone’s saying “stay inside”, and here I am, boasting about birds and rivers.
And hey, regulations are important! This year they’ve been crucial for your, mine, and everyone else’s health. In no way do I suggest you go against them.
But if you can go out already, consider checking in at the nearest park.
There were no strict rules about when and where people can go out in my country. Public transportation was limited, stores were closed, warnings about masks and social distancing hanging everywhere – but as long as you’re careful, you could go outside whenever you’d like.
Still, I spent the whole spring and most of the summer locked in my apartment. Familiar picture for 2020, huh?
That made my first trip to the river all the more special (I call it a trip, but in reality, it’s a 10 minutes stroll).
That’s why I wrote down the “park walk” in my bucket list for the autumn. That’s why I have it as one of my self-care tools.
You don’t know how healing it is unless you get out there.
Still not convinced that nature is what you need these days? Then check out my list of reasons down below.
Change of Scenery
I’m pretty sure you are fed up with the same four walls, be that your room, apartment, or a whole house.
Even if you are an introvert that values their corner and blankets over everything else, the situation still must’ve bored the heck out of you.
The more you look at the never-changing furniture, the more likely you are to get anxious about everything else.
It’s been proved that greenery calms our minds and lifts our mood.
Bet you don’t have that many plants in your home to imitate forest.
If you feel like you are stuck up, if everything around is irritating, and you are getting tired of the same old chores, try a walk in one of the city parks!
Just a short stroll is guaranteed to change your perspective.
You may be a pro of meditation and know the best places in your home for some “think through yourself” time. But even in that case going out for a bit of time alone will help you connect with yourself on a different level.
And if you are not any of these things? If mindfulness is not something that comes to you easily, and thoughts about yourself keep lurching in the direction of criticism?
Then you have to give it a go farther from civilization and closer to natural surroundings!
Our homes are a whole bouquet of distractions, from ticking clocks to laundry scents.
But it’s noisy and smelly outside as well, you may say, and will be absolutely right. But a rustle of leaves and scents of the earth are more familiar to our brains. That’s why you call it “natural” after all.
Reduced Stress, Better Mood
Even if it’s freezing, even if it’s raining, even if the weather is so miserable you’d rather spend all 24 hours in bed, natural sights will still be something for your mind to appreciate.
(Though it’s probably better to not check that one out – just choose a better day for a walk.)
Fresh air, calm atmosphere, and, preferably, sunny weather will affect you directly – by bringing a feeling of lightness and calm – as well as through brain activity.
You may not even notice them consciously, but happy chemicals are already boosting through your brain whenever a green area is in your line of sight.
Good For Your Health
As long as you don’t contact with too many people (we’re still in 2020 after all).
I mentioned the benefits for your mind – and when the mind is happy, the body gets a boost as well. Especially, when an exercise is hiding in something as small and mundane as a 15-minute stroll.
First of all, our hearts love forests just as much as our minds. Studies show that a walk in a natural environment leaves our heart rates lower and our bodies more relaxed.
Which shouldn’t surprise you – a feeling of peace is a frequent companion during visits to a nearby park.
Another intuitive thing is the benefits of fresh air, from clearing your lungs and getting more oxygen to activating your brain and feeling, ironically, refreshed.
What about increased intake of Vitamin D, the one our sun is so generously supplying? Or reduced eye-strain you most probably get after spending all day in front of the screen?
We can get even more up-to-date and talk about COVID-19, or rather your immune system that gains strength from chemicals trees release in the air (and vitamin D and fresh air, but let’s not repeat ourselves). Sounds kinda cool, don’t you think?
Form of Self-Care
If you are familiar with the variety of self-care methods, this one should be obvious to you.
Self-care comes in all sizes and colors because we all are different people with different needs that can be satisfied through different means.
But some things are universal – because they affect our brains, and the brain structure is similar for everyone. This includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising.
Spending time in nature.
Taking care of yourself is taking care of your needs and wishes. And spending time in a park is one of those things that’ll boost your brain activity and will help you focus on yourself.
Also, it’s very calming, so count that one too.
That last point kind of sums up all the previous ones. Everything, from the change of scenery to self-care, is good for your mind.
When you’re getting overwhelmed – whether by external circumstances or internal feelings – calm surroundings and pleasant views are what you need. Among other things, surely, but not in the last place too.
There have been studies on this matter as well, but I also experienced it firsthand.
To be honest, I was cautious last time I had an anxiety-induced morning and decided to go out to distract myself.
I thought that staying with my thoughts for too long won’t do my mind any good.
But that walk saved my day.
I can’t describe why exactly sitting in one place and staring at the river for 2 hours helped me to calm down and find new motivation, but that’s exactly what happened. (Probably, all the studies I linked before have something to do with that.)
In any case, a walk to the park is what I’m reaching for the next time as well. And strongly encourage you to try.
Being one-on-one with nature clears your mind and shows you yourself and the world around in a new light. You have to see it as well.
So, grab a mask and get out there – autumn finery is waiting for you!