Ways to Connect with Nature Around You

By: Angie Vasquez + Save to a List

Nature is everywhere and you don’t have to travel very far to take it in. You can find it right outside your doorstep.

In a world full of distractions from work, school, and home, life can become overwhelming pretty quickly. We are all so busy in our lives we sometimes forget to take a step back, breathe in fresh air, and admire our beautiful surroundings. 

I believe spending quality time in the outdoors cannot only relieve stress but also change your perspective of the world around you. 

Photo: Angie Vasquez, Hanging Rock State Park

Here are a few tips on how I’ve connected to nature and to myself.

1. Take a hike.

Hit your favorite trail. One of my favorite activities to do on the trail is to touch the trees! Yes, I am a tree hugger, lover, and appreciator of the magic trees create. Trees are grounded, strong, and majestic caretakers of the forest. I give gratitude and thank them for allowing me in their space while I marvel at their beauty. Can you imagine the stories trees could tell? While hiking, look for textures, shapes, colors, and definition that may catch your eye. Find a spot to take your shoes off and connect directly to the earth, again giving thanks for the space you're privileged to be a part of.

2. Walk around the neighborhood.

Don’t want to travel too far from home? No problem! Take a walk in your neighborhood. As you cruise down the street pay attention to the flowers growing in your neighbor's yard. Yes, even the weeds. If you have a dog, walks are the best way to connect to the outdoors because the curiousness of our fur babies can show you things you may not have noticed. Plus you get a bit of exercise to keep your heart healthy.

At the local park with Peter Parker

3. Find a nearby park or botanical garden.

Visit the local parks in your area. You’ll be surprised how visiting a park can let go of the bad vibes you’ve accumulated during the week. Look up the historical history of the park to learn why that space was created, or visit a garden to admire the beautifully curated lands. Sit on a park bench and take it all in. Listen to the birds chirping and observe the playfulness of the squirrels and other wildlife. If there’s a river or stream walk down to touch the water. Think about the fluidity and calming sounds of water as it flows downstream, or watch the sunset and admire the colors in the sky while you relax and leave the day behind.

4. Meditate your way.

Grab a yoga mat or blanket, sketchbook, pencils, and find a quiet spot anywhere in the outdoors. Sit or lay down (I like to lay on my back) and close your eyes. Place the palms of your hand on top of one another right below the center of your rib cage, the wishbone. Begin taking in deep breaths through your nose and exhale through your mouth concentrating on the rise and fall of your chest. As you return to your natural breath and listen to your surroundings, what do you hear? Paint a picture in your mind of the smells and sounds. Open your eyes! Take out your sketchbook and try to draw or write down an interpretation of what you see or feel.

5. Create a garden.

One of the best ways to connect with nature is to get your hands dirty! Taking a small space in your yard can alleviate stress and produce “good vibe” hormones all while creating beauty in your space. Planting vegetables or herbs will allow you to grow food and be more self-sufficient. Other benefits are sun exposure providing vitamin D for your bones and immune system. I love growing wildflowers to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies to help nature because every little thing can create a better world.

Photo: Angie Vasquez, The Great Blue Heron

6. Go birding.

Purchase a pair of binoculars (they don’t have to be expensive) and a local bird book, then sit in your yard and watch the neighborhood birds. You will be amazed at what you see in your own backyard. You can even buy a couple of bird feeders to attract birds to your space. Living in Florida, we have over 320 species of birds both native and migratory. I love visiting local parks and wetlands and lakes to observe birds and other wildlife.

7. Practice daily to notice nature around you.

Whether a flower growing through the concrete or cloud formation in the sky shaped like a heart, the beauty of the outdoors is all around. Take at least five minutes of your day to admire nature. Grab your camera or cell phone and take photos of the experience to create memories worth repeating. The more time you take to observe your surroundings, the faster you will be able to connect to the outdoors and enjoy the beauty right in front of your eyes.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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