I’ve already talked about why connecting with nature is important but exactly how do you do it? Fortunately, there are many ways to connect with nature, some of which you can do from wherever you happen to be reading this article. After all, you are part of nature so you’ve always got something at hand to connect with.
Besides marveling at the wonders of your own body, there are plenty of other things you can do to feel a deeper connection with nature.
The trick to pretty much all of them is to take time to notice what you’re experiencing and to keep an open mind. To make this easier, I suggest you either try these activities alone or with someone else who is as curious about developing a stronger bond with the natural world as you are.
Here are some of the ways in which I’ve connected with nature over the years.
Indoor and outdoor activites for connecting with nature
1. Watch the clouds
Even if you’re looking out of a window, taking a few moments to pause and gaze at the sky can be extremely rewarding.
Notice the colour of the sky in that moment, assuming you can see it behind clouds. How strong is the blue? Does it fade towards the horizon?
What shape and colour are the clouds? How fast are they moving across the sky? What does that indicate about the weather?
Can you see any animal shapes in the clouds? How quickly do they shift and morph into other forms?
How do you feel in this moment?
2. Listen to your heartbeat
This requires you to connect with your own body in a way that’s not possible while you’re busy doing other things. It doesn’t take long though so you can try this any time, any place.
Sit or stand in a comfortable, upright position or lie down if that’s practical and you feel like it.
Try box breathing to relax:
Take a steady deep breath in through your nose for a count of 4. Hold your breath for 4 counts. Breathe out through your mouth for a count of 4 then wait for 4 counts before taking your next breath. Do this 4 times as a ‘reset’ from whatever you were doing.
(Note: If waiting on an empty breath makes you really uncomfortable, you can skip it. It took me a little while to feel relaxed about that step.)
Return to normal breathing. Place your hand over your heart, close your eyes if you like, then feel the beat of your heart. Focus on it until you can hear it beating.
How does this make you feel?
Consider for a moment all the other hearts beating around the world, in animals and people. Recognise this common bond.
3. Really get to know a plant
This can be a plant in your home or in your garden or perhaps a tree in your local park or nearby forest.
Whatever plant you choose to focus on, spend time with it. Really study its leaves, stems, flower or bark. Consider the colours, shapes, textures and stage of life.
Are there any jagged edges or tiny hairs? Is the surface shiny or dull; rough or smooth; cracked, blemished or pristine? Can you see veins in the leaf?
How old is the plant, do you think? What hardships has it faced? How has it changed over time?
What comparisons could you make between the plant and your own body or life?
4. Keep a nature journal
Your nature journal can take many forms but if you’re not sure where to start, perhaps the simplest exercise is to write down three positive things you notice about nature every day for a week.
You could also use my free journal prompts to help you think about where you’re at right now on your nature connection journey.
5. Go barefoot
When people talk about grounding themselves, they often mean feeling physically connected to the earth as a way of steadying themselves.
If your mind’s racing ten to the dozen with the million things you need to get done before lunchtime, the best thing you can do for yourself is stop and reconnect with your body.
Adding nature connection into the mix makes this an even more effective grounding activity.
Ideally, go outside and let your bare feet sink into some cool fresh grass or soft mud. Or feel the chill or warmth of stone on your skin. How solid does the ground beneath you feel? Can you imagine roots growing from the soles of your feet and spreading deep into the earth?
If you can’t get outdoors, taking your shoes off and feeling whatever surface is beneath you brings you one step closer to the earth.
6. Close your eyes and smell
I find it helps to remove the distractions of my visual sense when I want to focus on smells. My sense of smell isn’t the best so if yours is quite sensitive, you might not need to do that.
If you can’t be outside, stand by an open window or door or beside a plant.
Notice any scents in the air. Can you detect a particular aroma, such as lavender or cut grass? Perhaps there’s a whiff of rotting leaves or wet earth.
Whether the smells are wholly pleasant or not, consider how they make you feel. Do they trigger any memories for you?
What could they mean in the context of the natural world around you and it’s seasonal cycles?
If you want to bring natural scents into your home to help you relax or change your mood, consider using essential oils (affiliate link).
7. Choose a sit spot
A sit spot is what it says on the tin; a place where you sit quietly in nature and wait to see what happens. Once the creatures in the vicinity get used to your presence, they will resume normal activity and you can observe and feel absorbed into the scene.
Again, depending on your circumstances, this can be near a window if you’re stuck indoors. If you have a garden or a local park, even better, or perhaps there’s a wilder place nearby that’s easy for you to get to on a regular basis.
The important thing is that it be somewhere you can go often and be undisturbed for at least 20 minutes. Over time, you will notice how the seasons and weather affect your sit spot, and become familiar with the resident wildlife.
8. Tune into the sounds around you
This is another nature connection activity that might be easier with your eyes closed. Instead of listening to the chatter of your mind, tune into your surroundings. What sounds can you hear?
Are any of them natural noises, e.g. birdsong, dogs barking, leaves rustling in trees, water dripping or gushing?
How close are these sounds? How do they make you feel? What do they tell you about what’s happening in your environment?
Try not to get irritated by any man-made sounds. Whatever is happening is part of the soundscape in that moment and will change.
9. Grow your own
I can still recall my excitement and joy they first time I tried to grow a basil plant and some rucola on my balcony. Every day, I would go out to check on my ‘babies’ and see how they were progressing.
Nowadays, I’m fortunate to have a garden and although I don’t grow much from seed, nurturing a plant is a wonderful way to connect to nature. All you need to get started is a packet of seeds, some potting compost, a window ledge or protected outdoor space and some pots.
If your plants end up outdoors, your ongoing care of them will deepen your understanding of the seasons and the weather over time, especially if you’re unfortunate enough to lose plants to frost, heatwaves or from simply planting them in the wrong spot.
10. Get touchy feely with a stone
Stones are incredible when you stop to think about them. They’ve existed for millions, if not billions of years for a start!
I don’t know much about different types of rock but I do enjoy feeling their different textures and noticing the grains and lines.
If you’re at home and can’t find any stone to play with, try wood or any other natural material you have in your home.
How does it feel? Where did it come from? How old is it? Is this its natural form or has it been shaped or polished?
I hope these suggestions for ways of connecting with nature have inspired you to get curious and experiment.
Let me know in the comments if you have any other nature connection activites that you like to do.