The very first thing I think of when I think about self-care is the outdoors. There’s so much research on the benefits of being in nature, whether it is the depression-fighting benefits of being in green and blue spaces, or the stress-relieving effect of exercise, or the mental focus impact of being in the moment out in the wilderness.
If you’d like to read more about this, Psychologist Jill Suttie, PsyD summarized some of the most significant research brilliantly in this article in UC Berkley’s Greater Good Magazine.
This importance of being connected to nature makes sense. When it comes down to it, on a philosophical level, we are nature; we are animals, developed out of the processes of the natural world, who evolved alongside other natural processes. Somewhere along the way, though, we have gotten so good at controlling and manipulating our environment that we may have lost our connection to it. Living, working, traveling, and playing in our manufactured spaces, we have become increasingly disconnected from each other and from the natural world… sitting alone in our windowless offices or staring at each other silently from behind our windshields while stuck in traffic, we may be inadvertently making ourselves less well. This is just not how we were made to live!
To me, the key to reconnecting with our natural environment and getting the most self-care benefit out of being outdoors is finding the way in which we most enjoy being in nature. For me, revisiting nature in it’s purest form is backpacking out in the wilderness. For you, is it jogging your favorite route?… Taking a drive in the countryside with the hood down?… Playing an outdoor sport like golf?… Enjoying a scenic visit to a local winery with friends?… Playing in the backyard with your children or pets?… Or is it just sitting at your favorite spot outside on the back patio?
As for me…when I can’t get out into the wilderness and I need some mental clarity and creativity, like when writing this blog post, I secretly put in my earbuds and plug into my favorite nature-sounds playlist on Spotify!
What is your favorite outdoor place or space? Maybe it is a place from your childhood, a favorite vacation spot, or just a place that you love getting out to on the weekends. How does being in this place impact your self-care?
If you’re feeling stuck with this prompt, try this activity instead. See the section: Distancing Yourself From Your Emotions.