Minimalism is all about simplifying your life. It’s not only about having or spending less money, but also about spending more time on experiences instead of technology and social media, as well as realigning your priorities and getting outside more.

Getting outside often enough can be a challenge. Most of us spend nearly all day indoors: working away in offices and other public buildings, sitting in lecture halls and classrooms, relaxing at home in front of the TV or our computers, and so on.

Do we spend too much time inside? 

WOMAN SITTING AT THE WINDOWA YouGov survey for Velux found that people, on average, spend 90 percent of their time indoors—much more time than people think they spend inside. According to the study, indoor air can be five times more polluted than outside air, and spending so much time inside can lead to an increased risk of developing asthma and allergies.

Spending more time outdoors is the answer to this problem, but the benefits of being out in nature go far beyond the physical. Current scientific research points to a myriad of advantages that come with spending time in nature. From easing mental health issues to boosting creativity, the natural world has a lot to offer us.

David Suzuki, a Canadian academic and environmental activist, has said, “I can’t imagine anything more important than air, water, soil, energy and biodiversity. These are the things that keep us alive.”

I think we should go one step further by reconnecting with nature, and by rediscovering our roots and early human history. In many ways, enhanced technology has made modern life easier and more comfortable, but the cost is that we’re losing touch with the natural world in exchange for the technological one.

Nature seems to be a natural balm for many ailments. It has a way of minimizing worries and calming the mind. It’s refreshing, restorative and relaxing, and I think it’s something we all need. In contrast, being disconnected from nature has its disadvantages. Recent research has pointed to the negative effects that living in the city can have on your brain, making you more prone to fear and anxiety.

While cities are vibrant and exciting places, they can also be very busy and stressful. That’s why I think it’s important for everyone to get away from the hustle and bustle every now and then to refocus and rejuvenate; to get that peace of mind and that special kind of silence you can only find in nature.

5 ways you can reconnect with nature

Stream in the woodsBring houseplants and flowers into your space

Research by NASA has shown that houseplants are good for your health. They remove toxins in the air, reduce stress, enhance productivity and make us happier. For many people, tending to plants gives them great joy. It can be very rewarding to care for a living being that grows and blooms beautifully in your space. Even buying a bouquet of bright flowers can lift your mood.

Exercise outdoors

If the weather is good, exercising outdoors will give you some fresh air, sunshine and a change of scenery. The gym is good if the weather’s bad and it’s late at night, but when you get the chance, you should experience the great outdoors, even if it’s just in the suburbs or city. But I do think that we should also spend time hiking, canoeing, kayaking or camping in rural settings, because it allows us the time and space to pause and soak in nature.

Spend time in forests

There’s a practice in Japan called forest bathing, which doesn’t involve hiking or jogging through the forest, but instead, just taking it in through your five senses: opening yourself up to nature and fully experiencing it. It’s all about taking in the atmosphere and slowing down enough to really be present.

Dine al fresco

Why not take advantage of the warm summer months and crisp autumn days, and enjoy your food outside? I don’t know what it is about dining outside at a restaurant or on a patio with good company, but it always feels more memorable and more intimate than eating indoors. Perhaps it’s because of the hygge nature of it. Regardless, this is another way to soak up some Vitamin D, enjoy the weather and treasure moments with family and friends.

Ground yourself to the earth

There’s a barefoot practice called grounding, which connects us to the Earth. I’ve always loved to take off my shoes and walk around in the grass or on the beach, and I suppose that’s because I feel more connected to the Earth when I do so. It turns out that by doing this, you’re actually connecting to the Earth on a bioelectrical level.

See the world with fresh eyes

I think that returning to nature, even for a little while, helps us step back and re-evaluate what’s truly important in life. Being in natural spaces gives us peace of mind—and sometimes, even a fresh perspective!

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Angela Ward is a communications professional and writer with an interest in personal development, mindful living and environmental protection. You can find her on Twitter.

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