This is an updated version of a previous post
I took an early morning walk today because I felt I had to make a conscious decision to spend time in nature. Rather strangely, I decided to ‘go to work’ and accompany my other half on his morning commute. For the last few months, I have been working from home reinventing what I do for a living by learning the ways of the Internet and vlogging. It has been an interesting experience and I am learning a lot, but it has also come with some unexpected challenges. Really? You may say. Isn’t the freedom of working from home many people’s dream? It was certainly mine.
Now, please understand I do not miss the daily commute to work or the work itself. I do not miss the long drive, the traffic jams or the unrelenting pressure. However, I do miss leaving the house in the morning, which may seem rather strange, so let me explain. For all of my working life, I have gone to a set place at a set time. Each morning, I opened the front door to face whatever nature had in store for me – crisp morning air, rain, golden sunshine, singing birds, swirling mist, quiet snow or wild winds – then I got in my car and drove to work. At this time of year, I might see the odd sunrise or two and delight in a slowly fading pink sky. On the journey home, at the end of the day, I might be lucky to grab a quick walk in the woods. Leaving the house gave me moments of precious nature time. I realised that I had these taken these moments for granted, underestimating the value to my soul and the benefits in dealing with stressful workdays. I knew then that I needed to reclaim the value of nature to my health and well being.
As our normal everyday life has now been turned upside down with the advent of the COVID pandemic, many more of us are facing the challenges of working from home and an altogether different type of routine. Yet, whether you work from home or not, how do we make time for nature and why should you? Here are my tips and suggestions for building time with nature into your everyday life.
Leaves fall as the breeze blows.
These gold drops of tree memories
Slowing drifting to the ground.
A shower of pleasure
To my morning eyes.
How are Nature Moments of Benefit?
Moments in nature enliven our senses – hearing, smell, touch/feeling, sight and taste – capturing our attention to the exclusion of everything else in life. However, nature does not demand our time. It will only work its calming magic if we allow. It waits with patience. The sun will rise and throw golden light across my path, but you must look up to notice. Birds will sing each morning but you must stop and listen. The cold air will freshen your mind, but only if you breathe in deeply. To be fully engaged in one simple nature moment will benefit your health and wellbeing – slowing your heart rate and melting away stress levels. Nature is good for the soul. Without fail, each time you give your attention to the natural world will be a small gift in return to stir up your creative juices. Nature is pure pleasure. Who has not been inspired to write, draw or make something after a little interaction with the outdoors?
The regular cycle of the seasons can bring a sense of security; a gentle rhythm that after the winter comes the spring. The seasonal pattern in nature provides a good model for the cycle of life. There will be times of busy activity and hard work, like the spring and the summer. There will be times to reap the rewards and celebrate achievements like the autumn and then there will be times for rest like the winter. These moments spent in nature are slowing teaching you to slow down.
How to Build Nature Moments into Daily Life?
Its clear that spending time in nature is beneficial, but how? Is it yet another thing to cram into an already bulging life, and if it is then its benefits are lost. Here are few suggestions to help you make space for those ‘nature’ moments and hopefully they are not too difficult to try?
Put nature on your work schedule
Add nature to your daily or weekly schedule. I set up four colour coded life categories – home, exercise, work, nature – on my iCloud calendar, Google works just as well. Then, I set up a daily schedule by mapping out blocks of time during the day. Scheduling nature as an important part of my life has helped me focus and give that time importance. Sometimes, especially in summer, exercise and nature might very well be combined so double time in nature for me! Other days things happen and I change it around. The key thing is, I made the time, so I am much more likely to take action.
Make space for nature in the morning
Connecting to nature in the morning is a brilliant way to start your day. For you, it might be walking the dog or a few moments in the garden with a cup of tea or opening the window to let in the fresh air. Dark winter mornings become a little more of a challenge, but perhaps then you have the opportunity to see the sunrise?
Include nature on your journey to work
Cycling a couple of days can be a great way to boost your nature moments. How about parking your car a little further away from work and walk for a few minutes, even if it is from the far side of a car park? There may be a tree that you pass each day, which is desperate to share a few moments with you. Why not stop and give it your attention? You never know what inspiration will spring into your mind!
Until my work routine changed so radically, I didn’t appreciate the finer details of the old one. Those few precious moments of leaving the house on my way to work and driving past an ancient woodland were so beneficial and I missed them. Now, I walk 4 steps across our flat and sit down at my desk. To address this, I decided that a couple of times a week I would leave the flat with my partner Chris and travel with him on his journey to work. After a few stops on the Ubahn, I head back, but via one of the city’s parks.
Share lunchtime with nature
Lunchtime is another great opportunity for getting outside and breathing in some fresh air. Yes, there will be days when the weather is utterly foul. Sad, cold, grey old days when you will force yourself out for a short walk, perhaps to the park at the end of the road, but it will have cleared your head and perhaps that problem you struggled with all morning will finally have a solution!
Find a place to call your own.
Look for somewhere that’s a little further from home where you can go and spend some quality time. Become familiar with place and observe the seasons or the weather change, then make mental comparisons. What happens to your place when it rains or the wind blows? How quiet it is after the snow and what flowers appear in the spring? These are all little things for you to discover and you can be certain that nature will be waiting patiently eager to show you.
For me, it is always a country lane or a quiet seat. Getting out for 30 mins on a Saturday morning is the perfect way to start the weekend while a stroll down my favourite lane on a summer’s evening always helps when I need to cool my whirring thoughts.