Get a nature fix in the city

 

We all need an injection of nature every now and again. But what are we supposed to do when we live (as I do) in a flat two floors up with no garden? I’ve got a GREAT way to have a mini-escape to the country, and it won’t take us any time at all.

 

1. Look at a map of your area, with your building in the centre.

 

2. Locate the nearest patch of green. Ideally, it should be no more than half a mile, or ten minutes’ walk. Even if it’s a tiny square with a few trees, it’ll do.

 

3. Choose a day when you’ll have half an hour free first thing in the morning.

 

4. Set your alarm the night before, if you don’t think you can wake up naturally. 8am should be the very latest time you’ll get up.

 

5. Wake up, brush your teeth and pull on your clothes. Don’t have breakfast or a cup of tea. Leave your phone and everything else behind. Grab your keys and go.

 

6. Walk to your park / patch of land. You’ll pass dog-walkers and joggers, with perhaps the odd yawning parent pushing a pram. You’ll be the only person walking for the sheer joy of it, and relish that.

 

7. Walk around your green space. Focus on the outline and the details of one object there – a tree perhaps, a bench, a plant. Look at the effect the morning light has on your object. Notice something small about it that nobody else would see. Then continue on your walk.

 

8. Return home, have breakfast and get yourself ready for your day.

 

We don’t need an escape to the country to feel the benefit of being in nature. Just making the effort to take a walk in our local green space improves mental health and alleviates anxiety and the symptoms of depression, as a 2013 study by the University of Essex shows.

This activity combines the benefits of morning exercise, mindfulness and that precious self-care we all need but rarely achieve.

I’m seeing if I can incorporate a mini-walk in nature as a weekly goal. It’s simple, achievable, and helps me to gain the all-important balance in body and mind that’s essential to a stress-free, calmer life.

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