Collins English Dictionary defines biophilia as "an innate love for the natural world, supposed to be felt universally by humankind." How connected do you feel to nature in your daily life?
As human beings have made increasing advances in technology, especially in the last 2 centuries, our connection to nature has decreased significantly. Now we live and work in spaces that are increasingly disconnected from nature. Our modern lives are more sterile and in many ways more safe. But at what cost? How has this disconnection from nature affected our health and happiness? A recent study, which surveyed a large number of nurses, showed that living near a green space lead to lower death rates. Other studies show that images of nature can enhance the experience of labor, that being connected to nature improves vitality, life satisfaction and happiness, and that taking a walk in a forest can result in decreased levels of anxiety and depression, compared to walking in an urban environment.
Although we can't all go and live secluded lives in nature, we can increase our contact with nature on a regular basis to reap the health benefits. If you live in an urban environment, like me, here are 3 tips to increase your connection to nature.
1. Fill your living space with plants
Line your kitchen windowsill with herbs for spicing up your cooking, making teas or even to use as medicinal herbs. Consider including air-filtering plants in all the rooms of your house to help remove harmful substances, such as ammonia, benzene and formaldehyde from the air. I especially recommend keeping an air-filtering plant in your bedroom, so you can rest easy that you are breathing cleaner air while you sleep.
2. Spend time gardening
If you have a garden, get outside, get your hands dirty and create something beautiful! Grow flowers that attract bees and butterflies, and maybe even put up a bird box or bird feeder to encourage local wildlife to visit. If you have the space, you could even create your own organic vegetable garden and get the added benefit of growing and eating delicious, nourishing organic produce. If you don't have a garden, consider becoming part of a community garden or volunteer with a local urban farm. If you live in Columbus, you might want to consider checking out Urban Farms of Central Ohio or the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department for volunteer opportunities.
3. Take trips out of the city when you can
Bringing nature into urban living as much as possible is great, but nothing beats getting out into nature, untouched by urbanization. Whenever you can, be it once a week or once a month, try to get out of the city and camp or hike or kayak or mountain bike.....or just lie in a hammock in nature. Your body and mind will thank you for it!