As we spend more and more time alone, or in varying levels of lockdown, the importance of creating wellbeing by having a sensory connection to ourselves has never been higher.
Developing awareness of the body, an exercise in mindfulness, is paramount to grounding and switching on our parasympathetic nervous system.
Often when we are feeling stressed, we remain in a state of flight or flight, which in turn, keeps our cortisol levels on high alert.
When stressful events such as COVID-19 create another layer of tension, we may tend to ruminate and overthink things.
By incorporating nature-based therapy and our inherent connection to nature, we are supported to get out of our head and into our body. We can do that by employing our five senses as a way to connect to our body and the natural world. And this goes for both within us and around us.
Practical ways to bring the outside in:
When looking at the natural world within, it’s important to consider what food we choose to put into our bodies.
What we eat plays a major part in helping us to restore balance within our digestive system.
Our body is an ecosystem. More than 90 per cent of the body’s serotonin is synthesised in the gut. In fact, our gut is often described as our second brain.
Even though you may be working from home, stopping to make a family meal or even just for yourself can take time away from your desk.
Setting yourself up to succeed can start by using a few minutes in your morning to create a meal to simmer away in your slow cooker, ready for the end of the day.
Bringing in nature sounds or water features in the home can be another way to improve our connection, while supporting us to ground via our five senses.
Inside your home, or within an an outdoor living space in your back yard, the sound of nature can be extremely soothing to the central nervous system.
When you listen to a river flowing, there is something very relaxing and grounding about running water. I think it reminds us that nature is in a continual flow and that we need to keep moving with the flow regardless of what’s going on in our lives.
Tending to indoor plants is a great way to bring nature into your environment, in a way that you can feel and touch.
There are many plants that will love your company and will provide beautiful greenery to your work and living space.
I have a Peace Lilly at home. When it forget to water it, it goes a bit limp. This to me is a reminder to take care of not just my plant but myself as well.
I am prompted to ask myself: How well have I been hydrating? What do I need to do to take care of myself in this moment?
Opening up windows and doors every morning, even though it can get chilly in some areas, is still a worthwhile way to start the day in a mindful and body centred way.
Fresh air and inviting the scent of our natural environment in can have a calming and emerging effect.
A vaporiser or oil burner for essential oils can be beneficial for cleansing the air.
Scents such as lavender can have a relaxing effect. Rosemary has a pick me up effect, as well as an ability to enhance memory.
Sight gives the ability to view relaxing colours and images that put our body in a rest and digest state.
Even evoking a memory of a time when we felt connected and grounded in the sight of nature can work. Think of looking at beautiful natural environments, such as the ocean, a mountain, or a field. This has the ability to reconnect us to what we perceive as beautiful and relaxing.
I like to recommend that people take themselves back to a space or place they felt connected to in nature. And this is especially good now, during self-isolation! A photo from your most recent happy holiday of an experience you had in nature can take you back to that happy place and make you feel relaxed and grounded all over again. Gift yourself this self-care time to reconnect with your senses and, therefore, yourself.
Lead photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas, Pexels. Following pictures all from Pexels, also – Taste: Wherbson Rodrigues. Sound: Pixabay. Touch: WalkSnap. Scent: Leah Kelley. Sight: Lucas Pezeta.
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