It seems like we’re constantly plugged in these days. Whether working on our laptops, scrolling endlessly through our phones, or streaming our favorite shows, it’s easy to spend hours every day glued to a screen.
And while there’s nothing wrong with being plugged in, spending too much time staring at a screen can leave us feeling antsy, anxious, and disconnected from the world around us.
A growing body of research is beginning to paint a picture of how our digital habits affect our mental and physical health. One study found that young adults who spend more than two hours daily on social media are more likely to report feeling depressed, anxious, and lonely.
Another study found that people who spend excessive amounts of time on their phones are more likely to suffer from neck pain, eye strain, and poor sleep quality. And a recent large-scale study found that people who use screens for long periods are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease.
This is likely due to the sedentary nature of the screen-based activity, which can lead to weight gain and a decrease in overall fitness levels.
One of the best ways to combat these effects and feelings is to connect with nature. Research shows that spending time outdoors can improve physical health, reduce stress, improve moods, and boost cognitive performance—just what we need to combat the adverse effects of too much screen time!
Here are a few easy ways to fit nature into your day-to-day life.
Get up and move.
One of the best ways to feel re-energized is to get your blood flowing by going outdoors for a walk, run, or bike ride. Not only will you get some fresh air, but you’ll also get your heart rate up and release feel-good endorphins that will help improve your mood.
And if you don’t have time for a full workout, even just 10 minutes of movement can make a difference. So next time you feel sluggish, take a lap around the block or do some jumping jacks in your backyard.
Eat lunch al fresco.
Ditch the desk lunch for something more exciting—a picnic in your local park! Grab a blanket and pack up your favorite sandwich fixings for a midday meal surrounded by nature. If the weather isn’t cooperating, you can always enjoy your lunch on your front porch or back patio instead.
Make time for a nature break.
When you’re stressed at work or home, take a few minutes to step outside for some fresh air and vitamin D.
Even if you just have time for a quick walk around the block or five minutes sitting on a park bench, taking a nature break will help clear your head and give you a chance to reset before diving back into whatever was stressing you out in the first place.
Spending time outside doesn’t have to mean leaving your house—you can bring nature right to your doorstep by starting a garden! Growing your own flowers, fruits, and vegetables is gratifying, but it can also help boost your mood and reduce stress levels.
And if you don’t have space for traditional gardening, plenty of plants can also be grown indoors.
Integrate biophilic design into your décor.
Studies show that looking at natural elements can help decrease stress levels and promote relaxation. So why not incorporate some elements of nature into your décor?
Place fresh flowers on your dining room table, bring potted plants into your office space, or hang artwork with nature-inspired scenes. You could even go one step further by adding an indoor water fountain or installing LED lighting that mimics natural sunlight.
Journal about or take pictures of your experiences in nature.
Sometimes it’s helpful to document your experiences in nature so that you can look back on them later and remember what made them so special. If you’re not much of a writer, try taking pictures instead! Capture images of the different landscapes, flora, fauna, and anything else that catches your eye.
Looking back on these pictures later will help bring back memories of your time outdoors.
Listen to sounds of nature rather than man-made noise whenever possible. One of the best things about being in nature is hearing the peace and quiet that comes with it. Make an effort to listen to the sounds of nature instead of artificial noises like car horns and busy city streets when you’re outside.
Find a quiet spot in a park, sit by a river or stream, and just take in the sounds of nature around you.
Appreciate the small things when you’re outdoors.
Slow down and look at the tiny details that make up the natural world around us. There’s so much to see, from the different types of trees and flowers to the bugs scurrying around at your feet! Pay attention to your surroundings next time you’re outdoors and appreciate all the tiny details that make nature special.
Find new ways to connect with nature.
There are endless ways to connect with nature, no matter where you live! If spending time outdoors isn’t possible, try growing indoor plants or keeping fish as pets.
You can also cook with fresh ingredients from farmer’s markets or your own garden if you have one! No matter what, there’s always a way for you to connect with nature on some level.
No matter how you choose to integrate nature into your life, taking some time each day to connect with the great outdoors is sure to leave you feeling refreshed, recharged, and ready to take on whatever comes next.