Spend Time in Nature (and Other Unnecessary Self-Care Tips)

It’s common to hear suggestions such as “spend time in nature” or “get out into nature” to improve our well-being. We instinctively know that being outside benefits us, and we usually don’t need to be reminded of its importance. Rarely do we read such advice and think, “Oh, that’s an interesting concept. I hadn’t thought of that.”

Obstacles to “self-care” are rarely due to our unawareness of what supports our needs. Instead, they exist because of a complex range of constraints, including limited time and access to green spaces. Additionally, the belief that everything we do needs to be productive or valuable can trip us up. This mindset can make it difficult for us to recognise the simple things we already do to support our well-being and to overthink (and compartmentalise) the options for bringing more soul-nurturing activities into our everyday lives.

Creativity as a Cornerstone

Creativity offers a bridge to reconnect with nature and fulfil our need for purpose. It allows us to slow down without feeling guilty about “wasting time,” especially if we’ve been conditioned to believe that value stems solely from measurable achievements. Creative pursuits can provide a sense of progress without the pressure for tangible results.

We recently explored this question in The Haven: How can creativity facilitate our connection with nature and exploration of the world around us?

One response challenged the notion that “getting out in nature” requires venturing far or dedicating extended periods. They shared their simple morning ritual involving a short walk to a nearby park with a religious shrine. There, they sit amidst nature, allowing themselves to be present without specific creative intentions. Yet this ritual sets a creative tone for their day, fostering a sense of connection and rhythm.

Someone else highlighted the value of our perspective when we look beyond the twelve inches to the screens on our computers and devices. Stepping outside and “touching grass” can help untangle mind knots. I imagine we all have experiences of that.

Spending Time in Nature is a Result of Other Things

Others shared examples of integrating creativity into everyday activities. For instance, rather than focusing solely on the goal of an exercise, making it enjoyable through playful approaches can enhance engagement and effectiveness.

We sometimes confuse actions with results. For instance, if we aim to spend more time in nature because we know it’s good for our well-being, we can make it happen by focusing on a creative project. This way, spending time in nature becomes a by-product of our creative play rather than a task itself. This is similar to physiotherapy, where the ultimate objective might be strengthening a specific body part, but “getting stronger” results from other actions. It can be helpful to think about aspirations for well-being in the same way. What if “getting out into nature” just happens because it’s where our creativity, relationships, and curiosity take us?

We talked about different ways creativity can help us connect with nature. From collecting materials for artistic endeavours and junk journaling to letting the imagination get sparked by natural patterns, shapes, and tones and allowing us to see the abundant and excessive beauty in the world around us. Noticing and observing the tendencies of life can be an antidote to the unnatural pressures from particular messages about efficiency, productivity, and control that we are taught to see as natural, where everything must have a measurable purpose, articulatable point, and a learning objective attached to make it worthy of attention and time.

So, how can we use creativity to explore the natural world around us?

  • Find as many faces as you can in the trees
  • Photograph the clouds and tell stories based on the shapes you see
  • Collect unique leaves as natural art supplies
  • Build a den or fort using found materials
  • Record the sounds of water or birds (listen back and notice what you didn’t notice in real-time)
  • Take close-up photos of things you’ve walked past a thousand times
  • Create handmade gifts using discarded treasures from the forest floor

Over to You

These are just a few examples of the countless creative ways to engage with nature. Do you have any more to add?

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