Spending time in your natural surroundings is arguably one of the best ways to develop a connection to the environment. For me, that means spending as much time as I can in the forest or on the lake, breathing in the fresh air and listening to the bird songs. If you’re not someone who loves spending time in the outdoors, consider other ways you can connect with nature. Here are a few ideas to spark that environmental connection and inspire you to engage with the issues facing our planet today.
Hiking/Camping – this is probably the most obvious way to really immerse yourself in nature and it’s one of my personal favourites. There are so many options for camping, from backcountry to car camping to a cabin in the woods (not technically camping), the options are endless. If sleeping in the forest doesn’t appeal to you, consider a longer hike than you’d normally do, on a less frequented trail so that you can really enjoy the sound of the wind in the trees. If you’re looking for local ideas in the Ontario region, here are a few amazing resources: Adventure Ontario, Explore Ontario, Bruce Trail, Guess Where Trips. Really, there are too many resources to put here, so I might make a post all about great accounts to follow for Ontario hiking/camping inspo.
Grow Your Own Food – not everyone has access to an outdoor space to do this, but even with our limited apartment space, we’ve been able to grow herbs during the Summer months. If you live in the city like my partner and I, there is also the option of renting a community garden plot or simply just visiting the farmer’s market every weekend (not exactly growing your own food but pretty close!). There is such a connection to the earth when you plant a seed and wait for your plants to flourish. Luckily, I’ve been able to reap the benefits of my Dad’s garden this year! Here are a few tips about starting your own garden (if you do have the space): Homestead & Chill
Play Nature Sounds While You Work – Wow, this sounds super weird right? Honestly, to me it sounds wonderful! If you have a sound machine with ocean or rainforest sounds, that’s amazing – use that! If that is not something you have access to, there are tons of Youtube videos and Spotify nature sounds that you can play in the background of your workday or even just while you hang around the house. This is so relaxing and connects you to other natural parts of the world that you might not normally think about.
Get On The Water – I am so fortunate to have my own kayak, so I can paddle fairly often. I understand this is not most people’s situation, but there are many ways to get yourself on (or in) the water in the warmer months. There is scientific proof that the sound of natural running water (like a waterfall or waves crashing on the beach) is soothing and relaxing for the human mind. I feel at home in the water and I highly recommend everyone try paddling in a canoe or kayak at least once – its a Canadian right of passage! So head down to your local beach (free!) or borrow a canoe or kayak from a friend (also free!) and get out on the water.
Diffuse Essential Oils – I know this is a bit of a contentious issue (don’t come for me candle lovers!), but essential oils are natural and a wonderful way to bring nature-based scents into your home. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a candle, I have a lot of natural, soy-based ones from companies that are wonderful. Essential Oils just provide a more pure scent that might remind you of nature more than a candle, for the purposes of this blog post. My faves include: Peppermint and Citrus Scents. Side note: I know diffusers can get expensive, so here are a few ways to diffuse oils without the pricey diffuser: 8 Ways to Use Oils w/o a diffuser. I personally love putting drops onto my dryer balls.
Volunteer At A Local Nature Conservancy or Animal Sanctuary – volunteering makes you feel good and gives back to the community, what more could you want? I volunteer with the Bruce Trail and it is so rewarding to feel like I have an area of forest that is my own to protect. Obviously that’s not exactly the situation, but I feel so so so connected to this part of the trail that I have to report on and maintain. Most local agencies are always looking for volunteers, so get out there!
Bring Flowers Into Your Home – I like to pick fresh flowers from the garden (especially lilacs in the early Summer) or support a local, sustainable flower shop. Bringing the outside in – always a good call to connect you to the outdoors.
I hope you liked these tips on connecting to nature! If you’d like to inform yourself more about why connecting to nature is important and how you can help with the climate crisis, here are a few links to check out: Intersectional Environmentalist, Beside Magazine, The Good Trade – Forest Bathing, The Good Trade – Nature Connection, David Suzuki Foundation, ICFC, Nature Conservancy of Canada + so many more!