Quarantine days are tough on the majority of people. Staying away from family, adjusting with a limited supply of food, and worrying about the wellbeing of loved ones are some of the key concerns. While most of these are solvable with the help of technology, an important question still stays unanswered – how do you connect with nature while staying indoors? After all, fresh, clean air and chirpy birds in the park have always been helpful for your physical and mental wellbeing.
Researchers around the world have long been advocating the healing effects of nature on your health. Dr. Jean Larson, from the University of Minnesota, has mentioned in a review that nature makes you happier and physically healthier. A 2008 study by researchers at the University of Michigan suggests that interacting with nature is helpful for your cognitive health. Proximity to the natural environment is also associated with lower stress levels. So how do you reap these benefits while staying at home and staying safe? Here are some ideas that will help you connect with nature.
Ways to Connect with Nature During a Quarantine
There are many ways to bring about small doses of nature to yourself when you are indoors.
Research by The National Institutes of Health suggests that genetically modified indoor plants help to purify the air in your house. These plants also help in lowering your stress levels and improving your mood.
Simple ways like setting up indoor plants around the house can help you enjoy the green goodness most of the time. If you are working from home, place your favorite plant on your work table.
Nature is full of beautiful and aromatic elements like flowers, herbs, and plants. Essential oils extracted from these are used in aromatherapy, such as inhaling them, applying the diluted oils onto your skin, or diffusing them for relaxation. Studies suggest that aromatherapy helps in providing relief from the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Not only that, but essential oils are also able to provide a therapeutic effect if you are suffering from fatigue and pain.
Opening the drapes is the easiest way to interact with the outside world. Natural light, air, and the sound of birds have all been linked to health and wellbeing. Research published in the Environmental Health Insights journal studied the duration of stays of patients in a hospital. The participants were divided into two groups, one with a bed near the window and another with a bed near the door. The results of this experiment revealed that the patients located near the window had a shorter stay in the hospital as compared to those who were placed near the door. It shows that natural light does help in a faster recovery. Another study suggested that a lack of natural light can lead to a general increase in stress levels and poor quality of sleep.
Make smaller changes like shifting your worktable near the windows to get most of the natural light. Other elements like trees, flowers, and the overall outside world can also help to enhance your mood.
Exposure to natural scenes helps in uplifting your spirits. Three researchers from the School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, United Kingdom have emphasized the stress-relieving benefits of viewing natural scenes in their 2013 study.
Recreate natural scenes indoors. Consider decorating your house and everyday objects with nature-based elements. Put up a landscape wallpaper on your work computer, draw and color your favorite flowers in your journal, or surround yourself with small pockets of green and blue spaces to soothe your eyes.
If you find yourself with no natural stimuli, guided imagery is a helpful way to enjoy the gift of nature. Researchers have found that nature-based guided imagery helps in lowering your symptoms of anxiety.
The exercise includes picturing yourself at your favorite scene like a beach, a forest, or on a mountain. Feel the breeze touching you. If you want to enhance the experience, you can also play recorded sounds of waves and create a mindful experience.
If you have a fish tank at home, spend more time alongside it. Dr. Nancy R Gee, who is a director at the Center for Human-Animal Interaction, Virginia Commonwealth University has headed research focussing on the effects of observing live fish on humans. The conclusions of this study show that viewing a tank of live fish has benefits including a decrease in stress, good mood, and an increase in relaxation.