Feeling a need for nature?
As a busy mum, finding time to enjoy nature can seem impossible. Between juggling children, home and work, finding time to connect with yourself, let alone taking time to connect with nature can be decidedly challenging. This challenge can seem even greater if you live in the concrete jungle of a city.
However, it is important to make some time to get out and enjoy the natural world both for yourself and for your family and with a little effort, it is possible to connect with nature – even if you live in the city.
In this guide we will explore some of the reasons why it is so important to spend time in nature and think about some practical ways to find and connect with nature in urban areas.
Before we dive in though, let’s think about some of the reasons why it is so important to find the time to find and enjoy and connect with nature.
The importance of finding nature in the city
The main reasons that spending time in nature is so important are the tremendous physical, mental and emotional benefits that come from being in the natural world.
In fact, research has shown that physiologically, our minds and bodies need nature just as much as we need food, water and air.
You see, spending as little as two hours a week in the natural world can help to reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, reduce your stress hormones and increase your relaxation hormones.
It can help you calm down and unwind, lift your mood, improve your sleep, make you feel happy, boost your focus and concentration, improve your creativity and reduce feelings of depression, stress and anxiety.
That is a lot of benefits! But it does not stop there. Because, while just being in nature can help you, actually noticing, tuning in to and connecting with nature, enhances these benefits even more.
You see, when it comes to benefiting from nature, moments matter more than minutes alone.
You can be surrounded by nature but if you do not take the time to notice, appreciate and enjoy it, you may as well be in the middle of a bustling shopping centre without a single blade of grass or ray of sunshine in sight.
Where to find nature in the city
So, how can we find nature in the city? Well, finding natural spaces and nature in the city can be challenging, but it is certainly not impossible. It just requires a little time and resourcefulness to find.
Here are a few examples:
- Parks and botanical gardens
- City farms and community gardens
- Wildlife and nature-based charities
- Nature reserves and national parks
- Neighbourhood gardens
- Doorstep plant pots and bird feeders
A good place to start is by visiting the tourist information website for your town or city and looking at the ‘things to do in outdoors section’. They may even list special effects and activities available throughout the year.
Another way is to search for parks and public gardens, community gardens, city farms, private estates and private gardens that are open to the public, arboretums and botanical gardens.
You can also look for wildlife and nature-based charities such as the Wildlife Trust or RSPB, which will often have events and activities which can help put you in touch with local groups and nature spaces.
Also, look for your closest wildlife reserves or nature reserves, or natural or national parks. Here in the UK and Ireland, you can also search for Forestry Commission visitor centres, Coillte Ireland or Natural Heritage Wales.
Closer to home, take a walk around your local neighbourhood. Especially if you live near houses with gardens, you can often spot a nice variety of trees, flowers, butterflies, bees and songbirds.
If you live in an area without gardens, it is easy to create your own little nature nook on a balcony or doorstep, with a couple of plant pots and bird feeders.
How to connect with nature in the city
Just like in the countryside, once you have found a nice nature spot, there are all sorts of ways to connect with nature in the city.
Some great ideas include:
- Nature walks
- Mindful moments
- Nature sit spots
- Nature scavenger hunts
- Nature journaling
You can even get your kids involved too and make it a fun family outing. Have the kids point out any trees, flowers, birds, bees, butterflies, or any other wildlife they see as you walk around and try to identify what you find.
Write notes or reflections about your nature time once you return, thinking about what you most enjoyed and why. You can even write poems about something beautiful, or sketch, paint or draw the wonderful things you see.
Remember – spending time in nature does not need to be complicated or hard. Even a few minutes enjoying a beautiful flower or lovely green tree can lift your mood, boost your spirits and bring smiles to a tired face.
In this article, we have looked at why it is important to take time out to enjoy nature, even as a busy mum when even self care can be challenging. We also looked at some of the best places to find nature spots and natural spaces in the city. Finally, we looked at some great activities to help you begin your nature connection journey.
Remember – take the time to explore green spaces and get to know the trees, plants and wildlife living an growing around you. By doing so, you will not only improve your own physical and mental health, but also fill your spirit with the wonder and beauty of the natural world.
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See you soon and happy nature walking,