Written by guest contributor Margarita Samsonova
Many people are looking for ways to reconnect with nature. We are starting the global healing process of bouncing back from the pandemic, but most people agree we don't necessarily want to go "back to normal" - we want to be better. But how?
Nature is a never-ending source of inspiration, healing, and comfort. As you will see in this article, our awareness of these properties in nature has the omniscient power to heal us all. If we can learn how to tap a little deeper into the powers of the natural world, we will find medicine, food, guidance, and an overall improved quality of life. That means conquering depression, anxiety, illness, loneliness, as well as improving physical health, communication, and productivity. All aspects of our lives benefit from reconnecting with, and appreciating, what comes from nature.
One study begs the question, Does the current disconnect with Earth’s electrons represent a critically important and overlooked contribution to physiological dysfunction and to the alarming global rise in chronic unwellness? (Sinatra et al., 2017).
Going outdoors, being in the woods, smelling fresh air, touching bare feet to the ground, and pressing your palm up to the bark of a tree, all register positive chemical responses in our brains. Much like how chocolate makes us happy, nature also makes us feel better. It's simple - if you want to be happier, your body and mind will feel better outdoors.
Nature is in our ancestry
Indigenous wisdom teaches us that nature provides us with all the tools needed to thrive. They can teach us how to use plants as medicine, organize community structure, engineer towns around clean water sources, and ensure balance in life (Saefullah, 2019).
The belief system of the Sundanese People follow a cosmology in which nature is reflected in all aspects of their livelihoods, from the way the people arrange their landscape, housing and residences, ecological arrangements, tools and equipment, to how they coexist with the environment (Saefullah, 2019).
For example, knowing all life depends on water, the Sundanese people divide the land based on the nature of water flow from the upper landscape, to the middle, and then the lower landscape. Humans are not allowed to build houses or residences in the upper area (at the water’s source), and this area should be kept ‘clean and pure’, for any contamination will affect the livelihood of all areas below it.
Similarly, the indigenous tribes of Sierra Nevada, Colombia, follow a cosmovision with the land they live on in the center. Nature is regarded so highly that children are conceived outdoors in nature because they believe that otherwise, within closed walls, the child would be born with a closed mind. We learn from our ancestors that being connected to nature and living in coercion with it, is crucial to living happy, healthy lives.
In Japan there is a term called "shinrin-yoku", which literally means "forest bathing", and is the act of taking in the forest atmosphere. The Japanese ministry encourages people to visit forests to relieve stress and improve health.
Studies have also found that patients with views of trees from their hospital windows recover faster, require less pain medication, and have fewer complications than those without.
After reading this, we might realize that we have drifted far from our ancestors and the natural world to which we are unequivocally connected. So how can we fix this?
How to re-connect with nature
One of the best ways to reconnect with nature is through direct earth contact. In fact, the surface of Planet Earth generates a kind of electric nutrition, and is a hugely overlooked element with potent natural remedies (Sinatra et al., 2017). Direct physical contact, like going barefoot outdoors, has significant positive psychological effects (Harvey et al., 2016). This is a simple and effective means to relax, experience sensual pleasure, and enhance the feeling of nature immersion. In other words, this is called grounding.
Decades of research shows that biologically grounding ourselves to the Earth, has the potential to restore, normalize, and stabilize the internal environment of the human body’s bioelectrical systems that govern the functions of organs, tissues, cells, and biological rhythms (Oschman 2008; Oschman, 2009; Sinatra et al., 2017). This body of research has demonstrated the potential of grounding to be a simple, natural, and accessible clinical strategy of healing ourselves emotionally and spiritually.
The bestselling book Blue Mind by marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols focuses on the proven scientific evidence that being close to bodies of water promotes mental health and happiness. There is surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do.
In the process of making ourselves feel better, we can help our neighbors feel better, and then we can make our communities everywhere feel better. By incorporating nature into our daily lives in simple ways, we can begin to heal. Our individual health is only a reflection of the health of the planet we live on.
I challenge you to go outside and put your bare feet on the ground. Touch the bark of a tree. Have a conversation with a bird or a squirrel. Go pick wild berries with your family. Sit outside at a restaurant. Open the windows.
Taking the time to sit with the earth will help to revive the wholesome fundamental concept that every living thing on this planet is connected to one another. The health of our planet reflects our individual health.
Other ways to incorporate nature into our daily lives:
Use sounds and visual aids, like setting your computer desktop to a landscape and your phone notifications to earth tones.
Lay on the earth. Go camping or have a picnic with a loved one. Sleeping on the ground is arguably the purest and most ancestral form of grounding.
When in nature touch, feel, smell your environment around to really experience nature in all senses and connect on a deeper level. Keep your eyes open, stay really present.
Bring a water element into your daily space, i.e., make an effort to go swimming once a week - being close to water is scientifically proven to improve mental health and happiness.
Find a purpose. Getting involved with local projects doesn't just help the environment, it gives us a sense of purpose and belonging. Volunteer, pick up litter, and participate in local environmental projects. Use social platforms to find organizations doing positive things near you.
Try to get out at least once a day, dance in the rain, go for a walk, eat your lunch in the park, get creative, use any opportunity.
Share your knowledge, tell other people about nature benefits you know, connect them to nature, especially the young ones. Only by truly connecting and feeling it's incredible benefits then we are empowered to protect nature.
About the author
My name is Margarita, I am a content creator. I was born in Latvia, however, I am currently based in London. 5 years ago I started my journey on social media as a travel blogger, I used to get paid to travel the world, promoting hotels, outfits, travel industry, and mainstream brands. However, after traveling around the world and seeing the effects of plastic pollution and food waste on our environment, I decided to take a stand and speak out about the need for greater sustainability, and to use my social influence to encourage people to care about our planet just a little bit more.
Right now I call myself Environmental Content Creator. I use my photo, video, storytelling, and presenting skills to speak about important problems that the world is facing and solutions that we have.
*All photos provided by Margarita Samsonova.