Today’s post comes from Rachel Gagnon, Healthy People Coordinator for Healthy Parks Ontario.
Did you know that nature can touch all our senses: hearing, smell, sight, touch and taste?
In these times when we cannot visit our favorite natural spaces, bringing pieces of nature home can help us experience some of its benefits.
Very few things in the world stimulate our minds and bodies like nature does. It can calm us down, relieve our stress and put us in a better mood.
Here are some ways you can incorporate nature into your daily life by connecting with your five senses:
Listen to the sounds of nature.
The calming sounds of nature can be very relaxing and are often used to relieve stress. The murmur of streams, the singing of birds or the rain are examples of sounds that can be very relaxing.
With the number of streaming services available, we can easily bring nature sounds and music from around the world into our homes.
Have you heard the music of nature?
Enjoy the aroma of nature
Nature is full of smells!
Some good, some bad and others that can improve our mood, relax us or make us feel punished.
The scent of pine has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety, while lavender relaxes us. If we are trying to improve our mood, the smell of summer air (leaf alcohol) has been associated with happiness.
We can experience the aromas of nature at home by adding a couple of drops of essential oil to a pot of boiling water or in an infuser, or simply adding fresh flowers or potted plants to a room.
See the wonder of nature
Nature is captivating and we benefit greatly from contemplating its beauty. When we contemplate natural landscapes, it can improve our mood and make us feel better emotionally.
Think about your favorite view; whether it be a waterfall, a viewpoint or an incredible sunset.
Can you feel your mood improving?
When we look at nature in real life or through images, it helps reduce our stress and anxiety. Try incorporating some nature photos from Ontario parks into your homes, looking out the window at moving leaves or a beautiful garden, or watching a live stream from one of our parks to help lift your spirits.
Feel the touch of nature
When we touch the textures, shapes and patterns found in nature, it stimulates our brain. The softness of a willow, the roughness of the bark of a tree, the tickling of a caterpillar crawling on our hand.
Touching nature can also play with our emotions. Walking barefoot through a cold stream or feeling the wind on your face gives us a feeling of relaxation.
At home, taking a moment to sit near a window and let the warmth of the sun wash over us can give us a feeling of calm.
Treat yourself to the tastes of nature.
Food flavors affect our mood and wake up our brain. Some tastes can take us back to a powerful memory or emotion. They can lift our spirits or make us feel relaxed.
Do you have a favorite camping food? Why not try doing it from home?
Camping foods, like s’mores, are easily prepared at home and can bring back happy memories of enjoying the outdoors with your loved ones.
Spending time in nature can be healing, and introducing small fragments of it into our daily lives is a way to feel more connected and grounded.
Ontario Parks has embraced the global Healthy Parks Healthy People movement to encourage everyone to enjoy nature where they can.