Healthcare TipsMental Well-Being

Little Things You Can Do to Connect With Nature & Improve Your Health

March 21, 2024

For years experts have been touting the benefits of time spent outside. Nature enthusiasts boast of days and weekends (and weeks!) spent out of doors, but that may not be realistic – or appealing – to most people. The good news? There are lots of small ways to benefit from being outside. If you have ten minutes to spare or if you step outside during the day for any reason, you can harness the power of nature for your health.

Small Ways To Let Nature Benefit Your Health

While a three hour hike is dreamy for some, don’t discount the few minutes you have between meetings or while you sip your morning coffee. Try making it a habit to spend 5-10 minutes outside before you leave for work or on your lunch break. Research shows that exposure to natural light (even on cloudy days) improves sleep by making you feel more tired, helping you to fall asleep faster and improving the quality of the sleep you get. Practice this sunlight exposure regularly and see how your sleep improves.

Another simple thing you can do is watch one of the many nature documentaries available on streaming services. That’s right, just looking at pictures or videos of nature can encourage that connection and lead to benefits. This is particularly useful for those that are housebound or experiencing illness that leaves them bedridden for several days.

If your life tends to be fairly urban without much time for seeking out natural spaces, utilize a nature journal. Recall times in the past that you spent time in nature, be it last summer or during your childhood. Writing about those memories and focusing on how you felt and what senses you used to interact with nature can have a calming effect on your body. This is a great meditative practice that you can incorporate into your daily life or during times of greater stress.

Of course, for those that are inclined, spending the afternoon exploring a park trail or wandering around the White River Gardens at the Indianapolis Zoo is a wonderfully immersive experience. It would be hard to have too much nature so enjoy as much time in it as you’d like!

Nature is all around us and it’s free (well, mostly) to enjoy. At Gateway Hancock Health we hope you’ll be encouraged to increase your time in nature and let it make a positive impact on your health.

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