Earth day is a wonderful day because it’s about health. As a global society, we intentionally recognize the Earth and the good things it does for all life. This day is a reminder that we’re all in this together, that this planet is for all of us. Together, we all benefit from its health. Together, we all suffer from its illness. Taking this day to connect with the Earth and to thank it for all it does for us is a powerful, positive thing to do. Something incredibly important to remember on Earth Day and every day is how deeply connected to, even dependent upon our planet we are for our mental health and wellbeing.
Below you’ll find some of the myriad ways you can connect with nature every day to boost your wellbeing and life satisfaction. Which ones do you already do? What do you want to add anew or do more of?
1.Connect with someone through nature. Give flowers. Give a dandelion (which is a flower, not a weed). Give your time; for example, go for a hike or even a short walk outside and look for beauty and life.
2. Escape outside and simply be. Pause and just listening to sounds, inhaling scents, taking in the beauty of nature, and feeling with your hands and feet. This is a big part of the practice of mindfulness, and the Earth gives us many opportunities for our mindful, peaceful life.
3. Use the world to stimulate fond memories. See your loved ones in their flowers. Remember special times with your children in a park or studying with friends outside in the shade on a nice day. When we stop to realize it, the Earth is there with us in what we do. Having fond memories while enjoying the present is part of wellbeing, and the Earth can be a constant reminder.
4. Experience awe. When we connect with nature, we realize that we’re part of something bigger. Awe is realizing, and appreciating, that there are things on this planet that are ancient and vast. A sense of awe pulls us out of ourselves and our daily stresses lets feel connected to a bigger picture. Awe can bring a sense of meaning that you might not even have words for. Awe is a feeling that grows big enough to calm our thoughts. Many opportunities for experiencing awe are outside and of the Earth.
5. Appreciate beauty. This is similar to awe, yet separate from it. Appreciating beauty is a tool for enhancing mental health and wellbeing because doing it shifts your focus from the “ugliness” of stress and struggle. Gazing at the blue sky and white fluffy clouds (and maybe pausing to see cloud pictures while you’re at it) or watching a ladybug scurry on a leaf doesn’t make problems go away, but it changes your attention. The Earth’s beauty is everywhere. Find beauty in a bowl of raspberries, fruit of the Earth. This attitude is a component of mindfulness, and it makes a moment better plus making it a habit can make an endless string of moments better.
6. Get outside, get active, and manage stress and anxiety. The Earth won’t judge. It won’t tell you to lighten up or make you feel “less than” because you have anxiety. It won’t look at how you’re walking or running or whatever it is that you’re doing and tell you that you’re doing it wrong. The Earth just lets you be active help your mental health. Breathe the air. Let your body work and get those neurotransmitters flowing correctly. Appreciate beauty while you’re at it for an even deeper impact.
7. Let go. Getting out into nature helps you let go of all that you need to let go of. You change your scenery and your perspective. You have the chance to breathe deeply, slowly, freshly. You can use your senses to be mindful in your moment. When you let yourself be with the Earth, your thoughts and emotions can become still, and you can refocus your vision on what matters.
Happy Earth Day. Happy mental health, wellbeing, and quality life. Spring, summer, fall, and winter.