The healing power of nature

Reconnecting with nature makes us rise above our troubles, appreciate life and help others

It is crucial to stay connected with loved ones during times like this to keep our morale up. We must eat well and exercise to keep our minds and bodies healthy. What else can we do to keep our spirits from being dragged down?

Turn to nature.

As we continue on month two of the second lockdown in Nepal, when the rest of the world seems to be moving on, it can be difficult to stay upbeat. Some find it difficult to keep spirits up because of the lack of social interaction, others are frustrated with spending too much time with the same people.

It is natural to feel ill-tempered and irritated with family members when you spend much time with them. Our routines have been disrupted, and some of us will take the frustration out on the closest people.

Many of us are not aware of the positive impact nature has on us. Living in busy cities, we tend to overlook the benefits of regular exposure to nature on our mental wellbeing. We  have heard of the benefits of gardening, and if you have not shown interest in plants before, this can be a time for you to start a new hobby that will be good for your soul.

Last year was challenging for the world with the global pandemic and lockdown. We were hopeful that vaccines would put an end to the isolation and mask-wearing, and looked forward to 2021 because we thought life would start to become more normal, but that has not been the case for Nepal.

It can feel suffocating to be locked inside the walls all day, so this is a time to remind yourself of the calming effects nature can have on your mind. It is important to spend time in the roof garden or the lawn to reduce stress and mental exhaustion.

Our busy pre-Covid lives disconnected us from the beauty of nature around us. It is not possible to go on a hill hike or visit a park, but just walking barefoot on the grass and watching the seeds you plant grow in a pot can be therapeutic. Looking up at the trees and listening to the birds can lift the spirit.

Even this can reduce anxiety and depression, which in turn strengthens the immune system.  If you do not have a garden, get some houseplants, give it time, nurture it and watch it grow.

Being outside and looking at the world will promote mindfulness and feelings of gratitude. It will make you realise that miracles do happen. Taking a break from the monitor and sitting outside, listening to the rustle of wind in the leaves, the sound of rain or just watching the clouds go by will help clear your mind and reduce feelings of irritability and frustration.

Many therapists encourage people with depression to spend time outdoors because it increases their energy levels, and makes them happier. It helps the body produce endorphins that have mood-boosting effects. Spending time with the trees and plants can help address your emotional, mental and physical needs.

The increased stress and concern about Covid have resulted in sleeping issues and insomnia for many. Spending time outside in your garden or terrace can expose you to natural light, thus resetting your circadian rhythm, improving sleeping patterns and rejuvenating body and mind. We may not have had the time before, but use this time at home to connect with nature and appreciate it.

Growing plants or vegetables can positively impact your mood because nurturing something else in life helps you take care of yourself more. It will strengthen you mentally so that you can support others. Gardening has been considered one of the most de-stressing activities because it lets you form a deep connection with the earth. It helps you bond with this intricate web of life.

It is hard to explain the calming powers of nature till you experience it for yourself. But the quiet calm around you will help you calm your mind if you give it a chance. Our mental health influences our overall wellbeing.

You may have noticed that people who spend time outdoors or garden regularly are calmer and more relaxed than those who do not. They also tend to be in better physical health. The healing power of nature can reduce feelings of anger and fear and promote happiness. You owe it to yourself to take care of your health during a time like this.

Stress and anxiety can affect your physical health with high blood pressure, muscle tension and excess release of cortisol. Being in nature reduces those symptoms, nature can soothe and has healing powers.

Nature can restore your sense of being because looking at greenery improves your ability to pay attention to details. It provides comfort to hyperactive minds constantly worried about yourself, and the wellbeing of your relatives and friends.

The lockdown makes many spend too much time in front of TV, PC or mobile monitors. Even before Covid, too much screen time was associated with depression. Disconnecting from these distractions can increase your sense of altruism and make you want to help others. We tend to compare ourselves with others who have more when hooked to the internet and social media, which leaves most of us feeling down. The news feeds are also full of news of the scourge, which keeps us down.

Reconnecting with nature allows us to rise above all this, and appreciate life. It makes us want to do more for others. It gives us a sense of purpose. It teaches us patience. We have been disconnected from society for too long, so it is necessary to bond with the natural powers of the world around us.

Start small and notice the mental, emotional and physical benefits you begin to experience. We are all in this together, and we need to help those who have less than us. If we can take care of our minds, we will be able to change our surroundings.

Anjana Rajbhandary


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