October is almost here already! While this means that my social feeds are full of autumn leaves, pumpkins and cosy knitwear (I’m not complaining btw), it also means that there are only four weeks until the clocks go back – when the days start getting shorter very quickly and winter is not far away.
My mood can easily be affected by the weather and I really struggle mentally during winter with the long dark nights and short days. I also struggle with the fact that less daylight hours means less opportunities to get outdoors and around nature.
If you follow my social pages you will know that I love being outdoors and any chance I get I’m heading out to the nearby country park for a run or to the coast for a hike. Nature has such a positive impact on my wellbeing that I know if I have a stressful day all I need is a little bit of time around nature to feel calm and relaxed again.
Even when I’m indoors, nature has an impact on my wellbeing. Every morning I will use the Calm app on my phone for timed meditation and it always plays sounds from nature, such as waves crashing against the shoreline, for the meditation. Also when I go to the gym for a body balance, yoga or pilates class, the studio has a forest painted on the walls helping to create a calmer environment.
I’m not alone in believing that nature can have a positive impact on wellbeing as multiple studies have shown that being around nature can, among other things, help to cure or manage anxiety, depression and mental fatigue. While there is still a lot more research on the impact of nature on our mental and physical health to make findings conclusive, it is clear that being around nature does a lot of good.
The idea that nature is good for us isn’t new as the recent increase in popularity for the Japanese tradition of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, shows. Forest bathing is the idea of immersing your senses in old woodlands to benefit from the restorative effects the forest has on your mind and body. The concept of forest bathing is becoming increasingly popular in Britain and there are even holidays available for those who want to give it a try.
Although I’m not planning on booking a forest bathing holiday anytime soon, there is clearly a lot of research and concepts that highlight the need for taking time out of our hectic lives to be around nature to benefit our physical and mental wellbeing. And, if you are like me and struggle mentally during winter, the short days and long nights that will soon be here makes it even more important to make the time to get outdoors and be around nature at this time of year.
5 simple ways to be around nature during autumn and winter
- Plan ahead and make the most of weekends and days off by spending time around nature
- Go for a lunchtime walk in a nearby park
- Bring nature indoors by adding houseplants to your home
- Meditate to sounds of nature
- If you’re a runner give trail running a go