Some psychologically restorative exercises to do in nature
Whether it is walking on the beach, immersing in cold water, grounding OR sitting and relaxing watching the sunset or sunrise all are therapeutic.
Taking a 🚶♀️ walk, jog or run when the body and mind are getting confused or retaliating towards each other helps to get back the control.Being surrounded by Nature and it’s beauty we are all blessed but we hardly pay gratitude towards nature. RECALL any one event of your life spent in nature which has been stayed in your memories.
Just close your eyes, sit, relax and visualize that moment again and be in the moment for some time…………………. How are you feeling now ???
The rhythmic sound of waves on the beach, the smell of the shells 🐚 rustling of leaves 🍃, the chirping of 🐦 they all have a soothing effect and can calm the anxious mind. That’s why physicians always prescribe patients to go on a holiday on a hill stations Or to places near to Beaches ⛱️
There is so much research done to suggest that spending time in Nature can affect one’s emotional and mental well being, yet it depends on us how we want to get benefitted. Being a mindful practitioner, I keep on suggesting some grounding exercises to my patients. Sharing some beautiful, simple and effective exercises here as well.
Engaging your senses : Sensory immersion
Engaging your senses to fully experience the sight, sound, smell, feelings and textures of nature. Walking and feeling around while full absorbing the beauty and uniqueness of surroundings. I have observed people walking while putting their earpods on. Just question yourself, ” Are we enjoying or just completing a task”? These sounds, smells and visuals help us to connect ourselves with nature.To be a beginner try indulging in one sensory immersion at a time. Try observing the patterns of leaves, how the people are walking, different colours spread around you . When you find yourself doing this, gently and slowly shift your attention towards your another sense, may be what you can smell and then gradually towards another like what you can hear and try touching the leaves, the sand around you ( if you are at a beach )
Watching your footsteps : Mindful walking
This mindful activity allows you to carefully observe your footsteps while you walk, how you are walking and where you are walking. While walking on the beach barefoot , have you observed you the sand glides away with each passing wave, the sensations it creates around your body. The sound our footsteps create while walking in the forest, the sound of the dried leaves. You can try this activity daily at home too. just walk barefoot on the floor and observe your footsteps or you can count the steps in a minute. OR you can try in a nearby park if its nearby to the place you reside. Have you tried seeing how the sunlight filters through the trees and how it spreads on the ground. While doing this exercise you can focus your attention towards your breath, If you are not able to walk, in a special case, you can focus your attention towards the sounds, smells and picturesque around you. love in being the environment and have gratitude towards that.
Watching the canvas : Art of nature
Have you tried observing the sky, the patterns of clouds, they look so beautiful. The sky is not only blue. It is sometimes pink, green, yellow and grey too. let the chidren draw the sky in the way they want. Nature art is ceative and meditative and what it involves natural materials to create it. collecting shells, twigs, flowers, dried leaves to create some designs and patterns can be very soothing and has a meditative effect on mind. Be careful while doing this activity, try not to disturb the environment and collect only those materials which are available easily and doesn’t loses the value of ecosystem
Nature Yoga :
yoga has immense benefits on the body and mind. If you are a practitioner of yoga, try doing it in the nature. It enhance the mental and physical well being and has healing properties. It helps you to connect YOU with YOU. Practising yoga poses which one is familiar with can deepen ones’s connection with nature. Don’t practice if you are not familiar with, it can harm you if done in a wrong way.Start by finding a flat surface, may be green ground, top of a hill or on a beach. Start doing with some simple stretching exercises, then slowly doing some yoga poses like tree pose, warrior pose, or triangle pose
“Balance is the key to everything. What we do, think, say eat, feel,they all requre awarenessand through this awareness we can grow”Koi Fresco
The fresh air, sunlight and the environment which is healing can enhance your emotional regulation. practicing mindfulness in the lap of nature will help you to get rid of the thoughts and worries that are troubling you.
lets slow down. life is not a race
A Dose of laughter :
Sometimes doing nothing but laughing with the persons whom we feel connected to, is a type of mindulness activity. As you are in the moment itself.
Studies in JAPAN indiacte that laughter boosts the immune syystem and helps the body to shake off allergic reactions
Whenever you go out with family or friends on a holiday, just give yourself a good Dose of laughter. laughing at silly things can be really intoxicating, fun and has lot of healing powers.
Hot salt bath :
Whenever we feel drain and lack of energy, taking a hot water bath is a quick fix solution to rejuvenate oureself. Adding salt to a bucket full of water has tranquilizing effect on the body and mind. Its an inexpensive way to treat not only physical health but mental health too. The minerals found in hot water baths can reduce stress, improves gut health and if you add some esssential oils lie lavander or pepperment, it can elevate mood too. Its like of an aromatherapy. It can even reduces migraine and headaches as it improves muscle relaxation. For tightened muscles and stiff joints, salt water bath can have proven great results in easing them.Epsom salt calms down, it relieves stress. It helps the brain to release neurotransmitters like serotonin which will elevate one’s mood and make you relax. Whenever we had some tiring day at school or at work, I remember, our mother used to give us a bucket full of hot water with salt and tells us to soak our feet in it. Really it helps. Try it for sure.
Cold water immersion :
WIM HOF METHOD , developed by an athlete WIM HOF ( Dutch) May be you are familiar already, if yes great and if not Just read and give a try .It involves a combination of breathing exercises, cold water immersion and meditation to reduce stress and clear mind fog. You can practice this in your showers at home but it will not work that way if you practice properly. Lets give you my example, We use to go to VAISHNO DEVI TEMPLE SITUATED IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR very often and I remember, we use to reach usually by morning walking almost 14kms. At that time, if I say there were not so hotels or services which are available now, almost 35 years back I am talking about. Our mother use to stand up in cold showers in the freezing temperature of winters. And suddenly after few seconds, we were fresh and rejuvenated.If you are not comfortable. it will take time to build up tolerance by your body for cold water.Lets understand how to practice :
- Find a body of cold water that is safe for immersion
- Begin by splashing cold water first to your arms face, feet and then to your whole body gradually and now let you immerse in it for some time.
- Focus on your Breathing, Take simple, natural. long breaths, Fast and shallow breaths will only induce anxiety an dyou will not be able to do it.
- Inhale at the count of , hold for 4 and Exhale at the count of 6. It will help you to connect with yourself
- Now try to notice the sensations in the body, the sensations will be uncomfortable at first but slowly you will get adjusted to and you will feel a sense of alertness and freshness
- The cold water helps you to ground yourself in the Here and Now. If your mind starts wandering, kindly bring your attention back to your breath.
- *** If you still feel uncomfortable, immediately get out of the water
- practice next time, slowly your body will become familiar to the discomfort and sensations of cold water and slowly you will gain control of your breathing
Let’s Conclude that Nature is not a place to visit, its a Home
Spending time in nature can be a powerful tool for improving our mental and emotional well being.May it be Yoga, Mindfulness techniques and holidaying, it helps to connect with ourself. Studies suggest that spending time in nature can reduce stress, anxiety, improves mood, concentration, feeling of happiness and can mend broken relationships too.Whenever you are feling burn out, stressed, overwhelmed, try taking small breaks and spend time in nature. it can be a run to the nearby park. A stroll after the dinner or anything of your own choice.
If you like my articles and if they are helping you, Do write to us in the comment box. or if you want to ask something, do let us know .You can save it and share it too with your friends and family
Lots of loveDeepika oberoi
psychotherapist, counselor and an Inclusive educator