Chapter 7: Connecting with Nature – Rediscovering the Healing Embrace of the Outdoors

About the Author:
Mark Aquino is a registered nurse in California with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing and Masters of Health Administration from West Coast University. He has at least 5 years of experience in the front lines as a visiting nurse in home health and hospice in direct patient care. He is author of OASIS NINJA: A Home Health Nurse’s Guide to Visits, Documentation, and Positive Patient Outcomes. This guide provides nurses with the information they need to provide quality care to their patients in the comfort of their own homes. He also writes books about how to live a good life and how to improve yourself on a daily basis such as Self Help Transformation: An Evidence-Based Approach to Personal Transformation for Mental Health, Physical Fitness, Relationships, and Career. You can also find all his books here. Learn more at

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In the hustle and bustle of modern life, amidst the constant barrage of notifications and the never-ending to-do lists, there’s a sanctuary waiting for us—a place of tranquility and rejuvenation. Nature, with its vast landscapes and intricate ecosystems, holds an incredible power to heal, restore, and renew our weary souls. This chapter invites you to step outside, breathe in the crisp air, and reconnect with the natural world—a world that has been patiently waiting for you to embrace its healing embrace.

The Call of the Outdoors: A Reconnection Long Overdue

As we’ve forged ahead in our pursuit of progress and technological advancement, we’ve inadvertently distanced ourselves from the very essence that sustains us—nature. The gentle rustle of leaves in the wind, the soothing sounds of a babbling brook, and the breathtaking beauty of a sunset over the horizon—these are experiences that have become increasingly rare in our lives. Yet, deep within us, there remains an innate yearning for the outdoors, a desire to immerse ourselves in the natural rhythms that have guided humanity for millennia.

Studies demonstrate that those who feel connected with nature tend to enjoy better health and well-being; this state is known as eudaimonic well-being – a form of contentment which also fosters meaning and meaning-making.

Reconnecting with Mother Earth may be difficult for certain groups such as women, youth and those living with disabilities; however, there are ways of finding common ground with her.

Take a Walk

Studies have linked walking in nature – from strolling in a park or hiking a trail – with lower stress levels and improved mood, likely due to engaging external sensory awareness rather than getting stuck in your thoughts. Take the time to take notice of all layers of nature: from ants climbing trees, birds chirping, clouds rolling across the sky.

Walking provides an invaluable social experience. Parks often host group activities like bird-watching or stargazing that allow people to meet new people with similar interests, or you could invite your friends and family on an adventure to discover constellations, discuss history or just enjoy each other’s company under the stars.

And don’t worry if finding time is an issue; several studies have demonstrated that viewing stunning nature photographs or videos can have similar benefits as actually spending time outdoors. One study revealed that participants who watched short videos depicting nature experienced greater feelings of awe, gratitude and reverence than those viewing neutral news footage or funny animal videos. Research has also confirmed that engaging with wildlife (whether that’s feeding birds at your feeder, or finding tracks in the dirt) increases eudaimonic wellbeing – the type of contentment which gives life meaning and purpose (Journal of Happiness Studies, online first publication 2019). So tie up those laces, play some music that inspires you, and take a walk!

Go for a Picnic

Picnicking can be an excellent way to take in some fresh air and soak up some sun while enjoying time spent outdoors with loved ones and making you feel relaxed and refreshed. From backyard lunches and meals at local parks to more elaborate picnics in grander settings like national forests or national parks, picnicking offers many advantages that will enhance your experience and help improve relationships between loved ones and yourself.

Research indicates that experiences in nature can boost self-esteem, facilitate connections with other humans, reduce anxiety and stress, and combat depression. They can even motivate physical activity – one way of living healthier lifestyles while connecting to nature.

Keep in mind that these different dimensions of connecting with nature work in harmony; not just physically interacting with natural environments but rather having positive psychological orientations and knowledge of them that can shape your physical interactions with them. Studies conducted by researchers have demonstrated the correlation between early life outdoor activities and environmental beliefs later on in adulthood, so improving your relationship with nature requires finding an equilibrium among different components that works for you and your situation. Hiking, biking, running or walking are great ways to explore nature; other activities might include gardening and birdwatching. A nature journal is another effective way of connecting with your environment; simply making time each week to spend quiet time outside and write down observations in a notebook are great ways to stay engaged with the natural world around us.

Go for a Swim

Even if you live far from a beach or forest, reconnecting with nature is still possible. Start by simply observing: sip your morning coffee outdoors while watching the sunrise; plan a backyard picnic to observe birds or plants; observe wildlife to better understand nature on an even deeper level and learn to connect with it—even if you don’t consider yourself an active hiker or birdwatcher!

Spending time outdoors can reduce stress hormone cortisol levels and is therefore excellent for mental health. Engaging with nature as part of its overall system offers people meaning and purpose in life as well as a connection to something higher.

Outdoor physical activity – be it a leisurely stroll or strenuous mountain hike – releases endorphins that create an ambience of happiness and serenity in you. This serves as an effective remedy for stress and depression, proving to be essential in supporting overall mental wellbeing.

Go for a Run

Modern life’s stresses can wreak havoc on our mental wellbeing, leading to anxiety, irritability and fatigue. Nature provides an effective antidote – whether a stroll through a park, hike up a mountain or camping trip; getting outdoors releases endorphins – our body’s feel-good chemicals – which in combination with birdsong or leaves rustling help lower stress levels and increase feelings of calmness and wellbeing.

Instead of viewing nature only as something to experience when it rains, bring nature into your daily routine. Even if you live in an urban area and can’t easily access natural landscapes, begin small by finding ways to incorporate greenery into your home and work spaces – planting a garden, taking a walk through a park, and watching plants from outside can all have positive impacts on both mood and wellbeing.

Running can be an energetic and invigorating way to enjoy being outdoors, offering stress relief, fitness gains and discovering parts of your town, city or countryside that you never knew existed. Running outdoors also improves balance and increases physical endurance – it may take some time before finding your stride; once it does though, the rewards will make all that hard work worthwhile!

Go for a Hike

Hiking can offer many people an engaging spiritual and rejuvenating connection with nature, making the activity an excellent form of physical exercise that also improves sleep at night – something which is essential in maintaining mental wellbeing during recovery. Hiking can even increase markers of cardiovascular health such as blood pressure tolerance and glucose tolerance while decreasing levels of “bad” cholesterol over time.

Hiking connects you directly to nature, enabling you to absorb its sights, scents, sounds and textures with all five senses. Hiking can be particularly powerful when shared with loved ones or friends; creating lasting memories while strengthening bonds.

Explore local state or national parks or head out into the forest, there is sure to be a hike that fits every skill level and interest. However, before heading out there is key research done; make sure you check park websites for closures/alerts as well as having maps/water etc with you before setting out on any hike. Also always let the slowest hiker set pace while staying together as a group (I have had too many experiences of hikers disappearing off trails at unexpected moments and turning an afternoon hike into night hike). Putting phones into flight mode prior to starting will save an enormous amount of battery power as it won’t constantly searching for cell tower signals from cell towers!

Go for a Ride

With environmental threats increasing at an exponential pace, it can be easy to succumb to eco-anxiety. But there’s an effective solution: nature connection. Studies demonstrate that spending more time outdoors makes people happier; in fact, studies suggest a deep relationship with nature can combat loneliness, alleviate social isolation and promote overall well-being.

This feeling, commonly referred to as ‘nature relatedness’ or nurture-based well-being’, can be experienced through many outdoor activities ranging from intense physical exercise such as running and hiking to more sedate nature mindfulness practices such as Forest Bathing. But one of the most powerful ways of connecting with nature is through an outdoor adventure known as ‘The Flow State’; commonly associated with adrenaline pumping extreme sports like skydiving and surfing but achievable through gardening, walking your dog, playing music or art creation or even more relaxing activities such as reading books or gazing upon trees.

Unfortunately, many groups of people do not experience the full benefits of nature connection due to barriers like limited access to green space and safety concerns. Thankfully, solutions have been put in place to combat this issue, including creating high-quality urban parks designed with inclusivity and accessibility in mind and creating green corridors between natural areas – increasing opportunities for nature connection among all segments of society.

Go for a Campfire

Campfires provide warmth in cold weather while creating a relaxing ambiance at the end of an exhausting day. Furthermore, campfires allow you to make meals outdoors and immerse yourself even deeper into nature.

Building a campfire requires three different kinds of wood: tinder, kindling and fuel. Tinder serves to start the fire; examples of it could include dry bark or shavings that have been cut away, small branches with fallen needles attached, small sticks or paper pieces twigs that you place next to tinder and fuel pieces that keep the flame burning throughout its duration.

Just as wood keeps a campfire burning bright, your community plays a vital role in keeping life going strong. Select mentors who will support and push you, ensuring your passion remains ignited.

Go for a Yoga Session

Nature provides tremendous mental health benefits. To reap these rewards, it’s vital that we do all we can to get outside and connect with nature – even if that means taking short walks or practicing meditation in green spaces nearby. Doing this can reduce anxiety levels, promote happiness and improve concentration.

Yoga can also be an excellent way to connect with nature. Yoga teaches us that both positive and painful experiences come and go, so that we may remain calm and grounded during times of change.

Experience nature through other activities, like enjoying lunch in a park or garden, practicing yoga with birds chirping nearby and planting something. Even just viewing beautiful nature scenes has proven restorative properties; studies have even proven this.

Go for a Meditation

Many people may not realize it, but simply being near nature can significantly improve our mental health. When we exercise outdoors our brains release endorphins that create an atmosphere of happiness and serenity around us that helps prevent stress from building up in us.

Planting or caring for even a small flower pot or balcony garden can give you a deeper connection with nature, because you get to witness your plants grow as well as touch, smell and observe their daily lives.

Creativity can also help us connect with nature. Painting, drawing or writing about it can reduce stress levels and boost moods, while watching or listening to nature videos such as Planet Earth can give us a greater sense of belonging – helping us feel part of something bigger than our individual struggles. Even looking at photographs of nature can reduce stress levels, boost moods and spark new ideas.

Rejuvenation in Every Leaf and Blade of Grass

Have you ever noticed how theworld seems to slow down when you step into a park, a forest, or a meadow? It’s as if nature beckons us to leave our worries at the threshold and enter a realm of quiet introspection. The healing power of spending time outdoors is not a mere illusion—it’s a scientifically proven phenomenon. Research has shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and boost our immune systems. The sights, sounds, and even the scents of the natural world trigger a cascade of positive physiological responses, reminding us of our inherent connection to the Earth.

A Stroll in the Park: Embracing the Everyday Magic

You don’t need to embark on an elaborate expedition to experience the healing touch of nature. Sometimes, all it takes is a leisurely stroll in the park to recalibrate your senses and shift your perspective. As you walk beneath the canopy of trees, take a moment to observe the intricate details around you. Notice the way sunlight filters through the leaves, casting a mosaic of shadows on the ground. Listen to the symphony of birdsong and the gentle rustling of leaves in the breeze. These simple moments of mindfulness connect you to the present, grounding you in the beauty of the moment.

Nature’s Timeless Wisdom: Finding Balance in Rhythms

In our fast-paced lives, it’s easy to lose sight of the natural rhythms that govern our existence. Nature, with its seasons and cycles, serves as a reminder that everything has its time and place. Just as winter gives way to spring and night transitions into day, our lives ebb and flow in a similar dance. Embracing nature’s wisdom allows us to let go of the constant rush and pressure, inviting us to find balance in our own journeys.

The Mountains Are Calling: Retreat and Renewal

While a leisurely stroll through the park can work wonders, there’s something profoundly rejuvenating about escaping to the mountains. The towering peaks, the crisp mountain air, and the panoramic vistas offer a perspective that’s both humbling and empowering. A weekend getaway in the mountains isn’t just a vacation—it’s a spiritual journey that encourages us to disconnect from the digital noise and reconnect with our inner selves. Whether you’re hiking along rugged trails or simply gazing at the stars from a cozy cabin, the mountains have a way of reminding us of our place in the universe.

Nature’s Gift of Presence: Mindful Awareness

In a world where multitasking has become the norm, nature invites us to practice the art of mindful awareness. As you stand beside a serene lake or sit beneath a sprawling tree, engage your senses fully. Feel the texture of the earth beneath your fingertips, inhale the scent of blooming flowers, and absorb the symphony of natural sounds around you. This mindful presence not only enhances your connection with nature but also serves as a powerful form of meditation, quieting the mental chatter and inviting a deep sense of peace.

Restoration for the Soul: A Journey Within

As you immerse yourself in the healing power of nature, you’ll likely find that the journey takes you not only outward but also inward. The external beauty of the natural world often acts as a mirror, reflecting your inner landscape back to you. This introspection can lead to profound insights and a sense of self-discovery. Nature becomes a nurturing companion as you navigate the landscapes of your own thoughts and emotions, offering solace and understanding in moments of contemplation.

A Covenant Renewed: Committing to Nature

The healing journey that nature offers is not a one-time affair; it’s a lifelong commitment to nurturing your connection with the Earth. As you rediscover the beauty, wisdom, and solace that nature provides, consider how you can integrate it into your daily life. Create a ritual of spending time outdoors, whether it’s a morning walk, an evening meditation, or a weekend adventure. Plant a garden, embark on regular hikes, or simply sit outside and marvel at the changing sky. By weaving nature into the fabric of your existence, you honor the symbiotic relationship that has sustained humanity for generations.

In the rhythm of nature’s heartbeat, we find our own pulse. As you venture into the great outdoors, remember that you’re not merely a visitor—you’re a part of the intricate tapestry of life that has been woven since time immemorial. Embrace the healing power of nature, and let it rejuvenate your spirit, restore your balance, and guide you on a journey of self-discovery and inner peace. The call of the outdoors awaits—will you answer?

About the Author:
Mark Aquino is a registered nurse in California with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing and Masters of Health Administration from West Coast University. He has at least 5 years of experience in the front lines as a visiting nurse in home health and hospice in direct patient care. He is author of OASIS NINJA: A Home Health Nurse’s Guide to Visits, Documentation, and Positive Patient Outcomes. This guide provides nurses with the information they need to provide quality care to their patients in the comfort of their own homes. He also writes books about how to live a good life and how to improve yourself on a daily basis such as Self Help Transformation: An Evidence-Based Approach to Personal Transformation for Mental Health, Physical Fitness, Relationships, and Career. You can also find all his books here. Learn more at

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