Over the course of the last year, people worldwide have realised how much the natural world has to offer, not only in terms of physical space, but also in the many ways in which is can support our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. As we approach Earth Day, and our lives begin to slowly re-open from the most recent lockdown, we consider ways in which we can develop healthier, greener habits that can support and benefit our wellbeing, as well as our planet.
1. Create Your Own Growing Space
Growing your own plants, fruits or vegetables is a fantastic hobby and one which can help promote positive mental health, as well as supporting the health of our planet. If you have a garden, consider planting your own vegetables. You could also research local or native plants or flowers and try to plant more of those to support the local ecosystems. Similarly, consider planting flowers which attract bees, as bees are one of the most crucial pollinators and in great need of our help and support. If you don’t have a garden, consider joining a community garden group or applying for an allotment in which to grow your own food.
Another increasingly popular option, is to grow plants, flowers, vegetables on herbs on your windowsill. This can be a really lovely activity to do, particularly if you have children. Growing your own plants, and encouraging children to learn how to take care of them correctly and watch them grow, can be a very rewarding experience and one which instils important eco-conscious habits for the future.
You could also get creative and make your own mini gardens using empty glass jars. These are also known as terrariums and again, make for a wonderful family activity. Simply use some soil, stones, shells or any other natural materials that you want to include. You could even add some small toys or figures to create a green scene!
2. Home Cooking
Home cooking offers a much healthier alternative to ready meals or take-aways. Not only does it help you to save money, but it puts you in control of the ingredients you’re using and where you source them from. If you grow your own vegetables or herbs, then home-cooking is the ideal choice. Alternatively, consider supporting local businesses and farmers by purchasing local, seasonal produce. Eating a more plant-based diet is also a simple way to help the environment, as it will help to reduce meat consumption.
Moreover, home-cooking gives you the opportunity to experiment with different recipes and to create meals which minimise added fats and sugars. It can also be a therapeutic activity, giving you the opportunity to clear your mind and make mindful choices about what you eat. Involving your family in the cooking process can help make home cooking a more fun experience, as well as providing you with an opportunity to bond.
3. Go Hiking with Family
For many people, a daily walk has become a ritual of lockdown. However, as our freedoms slowly return, try to avoid going back to old habits and instead, continue to embrace walking. One of the benefits of the gradual easing of lockdown will be our ability to travel a little further. If you’re bored of going for the same walk, then use the opportunity to take a hike somewhere new. Perhaps there’s a nature reserve you’ve been missing? Or maybe there’s a particular hill you’ve been meaning to hike to the top of?
Hiking also allows you the opportunity to improve your physical health, stamina and enables the body to produce endorphins. Furthermore, research suggests that people who spend time walking or hiking tend to develop more eco-friendly habits and practices. This is especially important for children, as those who spend time outdoors when young, will have a greater chance of developing eco-conscious practices when they are older.
4. Spend Time Outdoors in Nature
Spending time outdoors in nature has been proven to promote positive mental health and to help prevent anxiety, stress and depression. As the warmer weather and longer days approach, there really isn’t a better time to get outside! Make sure that you always wear appropriate clothing and have protective sunscreen on when you go outdoors.
As well as walking or hiking, you could go cycling or spend the day exploring a new natural reserve or beach. Spending time outdoors with your family, particularly with children, is not only a lovely family activity, but it’s also an opportunity for learning and creating wonderful memories. Why not do a woodland trail or go beachcombing?
You could also take your exercise routine outside. As well as running, consider doing yoga, Pilates, martial arts, dancing or doing an exercise class in your garden or local park. You can also spend some time in quiet meditation, or why not have a go at doing one of our audio guides or joining us for a physical or audio-guided Walk to Wellbeing?
5. Bring Nature Inside
It’s not always possible to spend as much time outdoors as we might like. However, we can bring nature indoors! Whether you choose to buy (or grow) some flowers or potted plants for your home, or make decorations using natural materials, there are a range of ways to help you feel closer to nature when inside.
As well as collecting natural materials to create artworks and decorations for your home, consider collecting natural outdoor sounds and images. You can take photographs of your favourite outdoor locations and frame these in your home. Similarly, make recording of birdsong, rainfall or the ocean and play these in the background. You can also find many recordings online. Finally, consider creating a comfortable place near a window where you can relax and take a moment to pause and reconnect with the outdoors.
This week, we invite you to join us in celebrating Earth Day. Take as long as you can to simply encounter the natural world and spend some time really and truly engaging in active listening. You can use the opportunity to engage in some mindful practice or meditation outdoors as well.
Take the time to reflect on yourself in the natural space, as well as to listen to the space itself. Engage all your senses as you open your awareness to the sounds, the smells, textures and rhythms of the natural environment. Allow yourself to be open and to truly sense all that the Earth has to offer you.
Your creative contemplations, whatever forms these may take, are most welcome! We invite you to share these with us on our Earth Day event page.
As we continue moving forward, we also invite you to take the spirit of Earth Day with you into the rest of the month, and indeed, the rest of the year. What green habits can you develop? How, in supporting yourself and your wellbeing, can you also simultaneously support the Earth?
Happy Earth Day!