Today’s post comes from Rachel Gagnon, Ontario Parks’ Healthy Parks Healthy People Coordinator.
Did you know that nature can touch all our senses: sound, smell, sight, touch, and taste?
During these times when we can’t visit our favourite natural spaces, bringing pieces of nature home can help us experience some of its benefits.
So few things in the world stimulate our minds and bodies like nature does. It can soothe us, alleviate our stress, and put us in a better mood.
Here are some ways you can incorporate nature into your daily life through connecting to your five senses:
Listen to the sounds of nature
The calming sounds of nature can be very relaxing, and are often used to relieve stress. Babbling brooks, songbirds singing, or rainfall are examples of sounds which can be quite soothing to us.
With the number of streaming services available, we can easily bring nature sounds and music from all over the world into our homes.
Have you listened to nature’s music?
Take in nature’s scent
Nature is full of smells!
Some good, some bad, and some that can lift our mood, relax us, or make us feel grounded.
The scent of pine has shown to lower depression and anxiety, while lavender is shown to relax us. If we’re trying to boost our mood, the smell of summer air (leaf alcohol) has been associated with happiness.
We can experience the aromas of nature from home by adding a couple drops of essential oil to a pot of simmering water or into an infuser, or by simply adding fresh flowers or potted plants to a room.
View nature’s wonder
Nature is captivating, and we benefit so much from taking in its beauty. When we view natural landscapes, it can boost our mood and make us feel better emotionally.
Think back to your favourite vista; whether it’s a waterfall, a lookout, or an incredible sunset.
Can you feel your mood lift?
When we look at nature in real life or through images, it helps to reduce our stress and anxiety. Try incorporating some Ontario Parks photos of nature in your homes, look out the window at the blowing leaves or a beautiful garden, or watch a live stream from one of our parks to help lift your spirits.
Feel nature’s touch
When we touch the textures, shapes and patterns found in nature, it stimulates our brains. The softness of a pussy willow, the roughness of tree bark, the tickle of a caterpillar crawling across our hand.
Touching nature can also play with our emotions. Wading barefoot through a cold stream or feeling the wind on our face gives us a sense of relaxation.
At home, taking a moment to sit near a window and letting the warmth of the sun wash over us can give us a sense of calm.
Treat yourself to the nature’s tastes
Food flavours affect our mood and wake up our brains. Some tastes can bring us back to a powerful memory or emotion. They can lift our mood or make us feel relaxed.
Do you have a favourite camping food? Why not try making it from home!
Camping foods like s’mores are easily made from home and can bring back happy memories of enjoying the outdoors with your loved ones.
Time spent in nature can be healing, and introducing small pieces of it into our daily lives is one way we can feel more connected and grounded.
Ontario Parks has embraced the worldwide Healthy Parks Healthy People movement to encourage everyone to enjoy nature where they can.