Living in a concrete jungle is a surefire way to become disconnected with nature.As they say, ‘out of sight is out of mind.’ Now, a study had proved that being connected with nature helps people to make eco-friendly choices. Those who live in urban areas have very few opportunities to be close to nature.
Connecting with nature is therefore vital if we want to make the right choices for the environment. Take a look at the what the study says, and read on to find out how you can deepen your connection with nature.
Study says connecting with nature helps to make eco-friendly choices
A study which was published in the journal Environmental International found that many eco-friendly life choices were common in those who lived near or in greener areas or even at the coastal areas. This behavior was found to be pronounced in those people who visited natural spaces often also. The interesting thing was that this finding was common for all people, of all ages, gender and both rich as well as poor.
People living in urban areas have little time with nature, and maybe this disconnect with nature made them less sensitive to issues such as recycling. The researchers opined that public policies to preserve as well as develop the green spaces in the urban areas would be an incentive for citizens to form connect with nature in the city, and thus help to reduce the emissions worldwide.
The scientists, however cautioned that the findings were correlational only, and not cause and effect relationship, but the findings were based on a very big representative sample.
How did we lose the connection with nature?
Perhaps this began when in 1600s, Rene Descartes called human beings as machines. The western part of the world devoted themselves to science, as disconnected from nature and all their efforts were for the benefit of humans, with disregard to nature.
Nature went from being the mother and giver, to just a resource which was exploited for our comfort. There was no consideration of love of nature gradually disappeared in most people. Thus, began the separation of man and nature as two separate entities, whereas earlier, man was a part of nature.
Why should we be connected with nature?
Being connected with nature is for our well-being at many levels – emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. And as the study found, our behavior is more respectful, caring and loving for the environment when we feel a connection to nature. We make sustainable choiceswhich are crucial for the environment right now, as effects of global warming and climate change have already started to manifest.
Feeling ourselves to be a part of nature keeps us sharp, happy and healthy, and keeps us rooted. The change begins from within. If you are truly connected with your natural surroundings, you will be in touch with nature even when you are in concrete surroundings.
Just walking in the park, and getting some fresh air will rejuvenate you, if you enjoy the trees, grass and flowers around you. For most people, it is tough to just let go and relax outdoors, where there is nothing to do. We carry our phones and thus social media and our lives in a small instrument outdoors, which we are more immersed in. This, according to the study is not conducive for us to make sustainable choices.
How do we reconnect with nature?
For positive impact on the environment, the world view has to undergo a change. There has to be a paradigm shift in the consciousness of people, from disconnection to reconnection. This would happen when everyone follows a holistic way of life, and we begin to realize that we are all connected to one another and nature. Our actions are not isolated but they affect others and the environment as well. Our society has to change from being consumerist to being a restoring society, in order to undo the damage that has been done.
6 Ways to connect with nature
To connect with nature, we have to create an awareness within ourselves about our natural surroundings. Human beings are intrinsically a part of nature, but this awareness has been lost, especially in urban surroundings due to the various stress of living life.
1. Be aware of nature around you
Many people are of the opinion that only when you go deep into nature, or spend time in the most sylvan surroundings, you will form a bond with nature. This is far from the truth. Even in the most beautiful natural environment, if your mind is preoccupied with your problems in daily life, you will miss the opportunity of being close to nature.
To connect with nature in the city, and to have a profound experience, you have to free your mind and relax. When you are outdoors, try to enjoy the beauty of the trees growing right next to your home or office. Your attitude, awareness and your attention to nature is what counts when you are trying to form a relationship with nature.
2. Go berry picking
Some activities which will take your mind and senses off from your relationships, work problems or studies, such as picking berries are a great help. As a child, you may have gone berry picking with your friends. If not, try and volunteer at farms near you and through this simple activity (as you would have to concentrate on what you are doing), your mind and heart will gradually bond with nature. You would experience a deeper connection to everything around you, and this will bring balance to your life. When you see the beauty of nature, and go back to your urban setting, you will naturally be concerned about the environment and become eco-friendly.
3. Pay attention to your emotional and mental state
Before you venture outdoors, pay attention to your mental and emotional state. Notice the thoughts running in your mind. Note them down in a journal. Writing down helps to put things in focus and takes them off your mind to a great extent. Now, when you go outdoors, do the same. See how you feel. Try to make positive assertions and just enjoy the sensations and noises of nature.
Your sensory perception, which has been jaded after living in the urban jungle for years, needs to be awakened. You have to train yourself to observe and perceive, and experience the simple pleasure of being in natural surroundings.
4. Do what is easy for you
To help you become eco-friendly, according to the study, you need to spend time with nature. It does not mean that you choose activities which you do not enjoy, such as going mountain climbing or hiking or trekking or gardening. For those who love to go hiking, trekking or mountain climbing, it’s great. For those who don’t it could be going to the park and sitting there or taking a walk or having a small picnic there with friends or family.
If you love going to the beach, and are lucky enough to live on the coast, then spend some fun time out on the beach.
But whatever you do, you have to do it often. Just sit outside on the steps of your home and indulge in some star gazing. If you live in an apartment, you could step out to the park, rooftop garden or balcony to experience the silence of the night. You might remember watching fireflies as a child, and this memory and memories such as these, will serve to feel attached to nature.
5. Try to find answers in nature
They say nature is an open book. Many philosophers, scientists and spiritual people have found answers to their questions by observing nature. You may be wondering what kind of questions you should ask. You might ask yourself how nature has always supported mankind, even though we have put unbearable load and pressure on her. Or how the trees, plants, insects and flowers thrive even in conditions where is no water or other resources for them.
You might derive strength for yourself when you observe the strength and flexibility of nature. So in the process of being close to nature, you may gain the understanding that you are a part of your surroundings and not an isolated being, and your choices matter for the planet and you.
6. Start recycling, reusing and reducing
Along with your effort to being close to nature, you should start looking at the choices in your life. Are they friendly for the environment or not? Stop using plastic, at least single use plastic and buy materials which would last for a lifetime, such as steel. Visiting, natural sanctuaries, beaches and parks would sensitize you on keeping these places free of plastic trash, and you ought to extend that to your life also.
Try to stop yourself from any consumerist behavior by curbing your wants, and focus on needs. Buying ecofriendly might be expensive but it is ultimately in the best interests of all who live on the planet. Recycle everything you can, even clothes, accessories, décor items and donate them in good condition to those who need them. You can accept what you want from others too, as the focus should be on cycle economy, rather than buying something entirely new, such as reclaimed doors and windows, furniture etc.
When you are connected to nature, you appreciate all she has given you, and you begin to become protective about your environment. This is why connecting with nature is important today.