Health Wise: Make Time for Green Time

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Have you heard the terms “green time”, “green therapy”, or “nature therapy”? This terms refer to a wide range of ways that you can use nature and the outdoors to improve mental health. It’s an all-encompassing term for everything from adding nature time into your life on your own to doing it with a therapist or in a group setting. Today, we’re going to present some ways you can use green therapy on your own.

First of all, you might be thinking, why nature therapy? Well, simply put, human beings are tied to nature. Before we built the industrialized, tech-filled world we have now, our ancestors lived in nature. Just because we built walls around ourselves and filled the air with Wi-Fi does not mean our bodies have forgotten the importance of nature and the outdoors. We adopt pets, buy house plants, decorate with paintings and photographs of natural landscapes, plant gardens, and travel to natural destinations (everything from tulip festivals to beaches and canyons) all because we are driven by our craving for the natural world.

Truly you don’t have to travel far or spend lots of money to give your brain and body the natural experience it craves. We have narrowed our idea list down to some of the simple, but highly effective ways to incorporate green time:

⁃ Put real plants in all of your rooms. Make time to mindfully care for them - re-potting, watering, trimming them. Make sure to thank them for the clean, crisp air they provide for you.

⁃ Try growing some herbs, food, or other plants. You can do this indoors or outdoors. Start with seeds, and find joy in watching life sprout. Extra joy if you can enjoy eating some of what you’ve grown in a meal eventually!

⁃ Explore every park around where you live. Try a map search of your area! Many areas have beautiful botanical gardens, lakes, and nature trails. You might find some hidden gems.

⁃ Find the top parks in your state and plan a day trip. Take a friend, or a pet, or spend some time with yourself.

⁃ Go for a walk, jog, or bike ride every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

⁃ If you have a pet, take time to be mindfully present with them (watching them, petting them, caring for them with your full attention). If you don’t, consider if one may be right for you. This can be anything from a tiny fish tank to fostering or rescuing a larger animal. Also consider volunteering at an animal rescue or walking/pet-sitting for someone else.

⁃ Try a nature meditation. Sit in your yard, a park, a local garden, etc. Pay attention to the sights, sounds, smells. Find one aspect of nature around you and bring all of your attention to seeing, feeling, and connecting with it.

⁃ Consider volunteering (as part of a group or on your own) doing something for nature, such as cleaning up a local park or planting trees.

Can you think of a way that you can add some green time into your day/week? Find the ways that speak to you most, and are manageable and fit into your life. And what better time to start than in the Spring?

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