Society places you in front of computer monitors in stuffy cubicles under florescent lights for hours each day. By the time you leave, there’s barely enough time to run into the deli to grab dinner, then collapse in front of the television – or worse yet, open your briefcase to more work!
If you didn’t have a tranquil scene on your screen saver, you wouldn’t see much of the great outdoors. Nature just isn’t on your schedule. You may not even realize that a drawer full of anti-acids and aspirin isn’t a fraction as good for your stress and tension as spending time outdoors.
Nature is the drug-free way to calm your nerves. The only way to get the full benefit of nature is to experience it firsthand. You can’t read about it, see photos, or watch it on television and get the same stress-relieving effect.
Stop protesting that you don’t have time. You could take your brown bag lunch and eat outside. Or you could drive to a park and have lunch there. And instead of taking a coffee break, go outside and walk around the parking lot. You’ll get more healthful energy from fifteen minutes outdoors than a triple shot in a latte.
And while you’re outdoors, stop, look, and listen. Stop your brain from running a ticker of your task list or replaying that last irritating phone call. Look around you – really look. What do you see? A tree – what kind of tree? A bush with flowers? Touch and smell the flowers. Did you see a squirrel playing under the tree? Watch him – squirrels tend to be entertaining, and if you bring peanuts he may just put on a show for that treat.
Do you hear birds chirping? How many different kinds of birds do you see? If you look at every aspect of the scene, you’ll see things in nature that you haven’t noticed since you were a curious child. Those things never left, you just stopped looking and burdening yourself with more stress.
Look around your community to find a walking or hiking group. Many of these groups meet weekly for local events and then plan longer outdoor activities several times a year. This gets you outdoors with people who appreciate the natural world around them. And it’s great exercise at the same time.
Another way to appreciate nature is through photography. If you have no experience, take a class at the local community college or adult education program. Then get a camera and just start taking pictures. A local park or garden spot is a great place to begin. Or you can take pictures of the foliage and animals in your neighborhood. As a photographer, you become highly in-tune with your subject and appreciate the nuances. With nature as your subject, you won’t have time or energy to waste on the stress of everyday life.