How to Ground Yourself by Connecting With Nature

by | Apr 22, 2024 | Adulting, Anxiety, Counseling, Depression, Highly Sensitive People (HSP), Stress

How to Ground Yourself by Connecting With Nature

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Happy Earth Day! Many individuals spend this day doing good for the Earth, whether that be through planting flowers in their gardens, volunteering to clean up litter, or simply spending time enjoying the outdoors. Spending time in nature and positively interacting with the outdoors has a beneficial impact on the Earth, but did you know it can also improve your mental health? Connecting with nature can help ground yourself, which can create a feeling of calm and tranquility within you. Keep reading to learn about the importance of grounding and a few ways you can ground yourself while celebrating Earth Day!

What is Grounding?

Grounding can be described as the practice of connecting with the Earth’s energy to replenish your sense of balance and promote a sense of stability in your mental state. Individuals who spend a lot of time inside their heads—often those who struggle with anxiety, perfectionism, or excessive rumination—will likely discover a sense of relief when stepping outside and reminding themselves that the world is much larger than their thoughts and current worries [1]. It can help put things into context and make clearer decisions about whatever is stressing you in the present moment.

Think about the last time you were stressed or upset about something, and decided to take a walk or even sit outside getting some fresh air. How did you feel after? It is likely that spending some time being mindful of the world around you, feeling the wind on your skin, and staring up at the moving clouds helped you feel a bit calmer about the thing that was bothering you. It won’t make the stressor go away, but it may make it feel more manageable in the grand scheme of things. 

In modern society, we are almost constantly connected to technology. Whether we are working, studying, or relaxing, a technological device is often in our arms reach—if not being used in our hands already! This makes the practice of grounding yourself in nature all the more important. You may spend a solid 8 hours a day working on your computer, attending Zoom classes, or having appointments via phone call. It is vital to mark time on your agenda for reflection and connection with nature, even if it is just 15 minutes a day. 

5 Nature Grounding Techniques to Improve Mental Health

Below are some ways to connect with nature while improving your mental health. Even just trying one out of these five techniques may make a huge difference in your lifestyle and mindset!

  • Outdoor Exercise: All individuals need to get proper exercise daily if they are able to. So, now that a lot of us are experiencing sunny Spring weather, why not bring your exercise routine outdoors, rather than inside your house or the gym? Engaging in physical activities like walking, running, or cycling outdoors not only gives you the normal benefits of exercise, but also creates opportunities for mindfulness and relaxation. This can alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression, as exercise releases mood-boosting endorphins and natural sunlight promotes feelings of happiness and decreases feelings of depression [2]. Additionally, Sage Counseling and Wellness offers outdoor walk-and-talk therapy sessions, so you can tackle taking care of your mental health directly while spending time outdoors! So, this Earth Day, and the days after, celebrate by exercising out in nature!
  • Nature Meditation: Meditating in nature is a wonderful way to celebrate this day and take in the Earth’s beauty and healing elements. Practicing meditation outdoors, whether in your backyard, the park, or beside a body of water, can help individuals connect with their surroundings on a deeper level. While meditating, it is normal to have thoughts of anxiety or stress come into your head. Instead of desperately trying to push them away, try the “Leaves on a Stream Method” [3]. This method entails imagining that the thoughts and worries that pop into your mind are leaves that are floating on a stream that is running by you. As the leaf in the stream passes by where you are sitting near the stream, you’ll likely notice it, but then it will just drift away in the stream’s current. You don’t need to pluck each leaf out of the stream and analyze it, or insist on sitting near a stream with no leaves. Instead, accept that there will be leaves, or worries, without giving them too much power. Do this while grounding yourself and moving forward with the meditation.
  • Forest Bathing: Spending time in forests and immersing yourself in the beautiful sights, sounds, and smells of nature has been shown to decrease feelings of stress, lower blood pressure, and boost mood [4]. If you are lucky enough to live by a forest or national park, take advantage of your location and spend some time in it this week! Of course, stay safe in secluded areas, and bring a friend or family member with you. 
  • Gardening: Taking the responsibility of tending to plants, flowers, or vegetables in a garden provides a sense of purpose and accomplishment while connecting with nature. Gardening has plenty of therapeutic benefits, such as promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and improving your overall sense of well-being [5].
  • Animal Companionship: Interacting with animals in nature by partaking in activities like birdwatching, horseback riding, or simply taking your dog on its daily walk can have excellent benefits on mental wellness. Animals, in general, promote a sense of companionship, decreasing feelings of loneliness and increasing a sense of purpose. Animals offer unconditional love and a chance to express themselves emotionally, which can help lessen feelings of anxiety or isolation. 

All in all, Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to spend time outdoors appreciating the Earth, and in turn, improving your mental health. Remember to wear sunscreen while spending time outside, and to have fun! 

To discuss how therapy could help you during this season of your life, please contact me or schedule your free 15 minute consultation.

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