How to Rewild your life for mental wellbeing
One part of my job that I really, really love, is hearing from inspiring people wanting to work with me. When Michelle Parry, founder of The Rewilding got in touch asking if I might like to collaborate with her, I knew within minutes of browsing her inspirational website that the answer was a resounding yes. The concept is to help you to consciously restore mental wellbeing and the balance in your life and ‘rewild’ yourself with a range of experiences, retreats and events.
It was this line that really got me: ‘Whoever you are and wherever you are, we humans have an instinctive desire to connect with nature and other living things. At The Rewilding, we explore connection with both nature and other humans, journeying backward, to older philosophies, where we evolved “as part of the planet and not apart from the planet.”
I hit reply to Michelle’s email and asked if she would like to write a piece for us about Rewilding – what it is and how it can benefit our mental wellbeing. She definitely didn’t disappoint. There are podcasts and music play lists to enjoy, books to read, practical tips and suggestions to try in your everyday life. As Michelle says, WE are all nature and this precious planet belongs to us all. I really enjoyed reading her thoughts and ideas and I hope you do too.
Rewild for mental wellbeing
The pandemic has had a profound impact on us all.
Like a long lost friend, nature has been there for us throughout the pandemic and for many of us, we’ve been spending time with nature like we would our friends, and in return, receiving a similar type of support and connection.
It’s as though we’ve begun to reawaken ourselves with the awe of nature in our own backyards. Slowly beginning to ‘reconnect’ or perhaps connect for the very first time with the world around us.
We’ve replaced going to the pub after work to going for a walk in the park, and in not dulling our senses with booze and distraction we’ve begun to tune back into our senses and take experience the natural highs from the natural world. When we do this more intentionally, we create space for ourselves to induce calm, creativity and reduce stress, in what is undeniably a very stressful time in our lives.
Are we experiencing an unintentional human rewilding? Either way, it’s time to start taking nature seriously.
What is human rewilding?
We typically think about the word ‘rewilding’ in an environmental context, to allow nature to be left to go back to its original, natural state. What happens when we begin to apply this same concept to humans?
It’s not unusual to find ourselves in a constant pursuit of external ways to ‘fix ourselves’, seeking endlessly for solutions to outsource problems and automate life, but we ultimately forget, we instinctively already have our own answers and solutions.
Human rewilding is all about relearning our connection with the natural world and ourselves, going back to older methods and philosophies. Understanding that, whoever you are and wherever you live or work, humans have an innate desire and instinct to want to connect with nature and other living systems. Edward O. Wilson defines this as biophilia “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”.
We often do this without even realising, yet when we do, and bring more consciousness to how we integrate nature into our lives we can begin to experience positive effects on our mental and physical wellbeing and begin to thrive.
My definition of human rewilding is one I strive to apply always in my life and business.
“To consciously restore to a more natural, wild state in order to rebalance and repair, used especially with reference to the undoing of domestication and conditioning. Human rewilding is a holistic, intentional way of living.”
How can you rewild yourself today?
Tune in to your senses
Get ready to sharpen the best toolkit you have. We have these 5 wonderful senses, that are our key to experiencing life’s pleasures. Tuning in, is the fastest way to bring yourself to the present moment.
Next time you’re in the woods, your garden, an outdoor setting….
Check in with your senses; , sound, vision, taste, touch and smell and ask yourself “what am I experiencing in this moment right now”
“What can I smell?” “What can I hear?” “how far away or nearby can I tune into this sense?” etc.
Count off your senses with your fingers one by one and check in with what’s going on around you or perhaps in the distance. Receive nature and allow it to shower down on you and soak you right through. You don’t have to ‘do’ anything, simply, receive. Stay curious and explore. Channel your inner child, touch things and go off path and have some fun!
What if I’m not outside?
The average person spends 40*+ hours looking at a screen, indoors, and often in sterile office environments, so it’s not really shocking that this starts to have an impact on your mental wellbeing and state of mind. No doubt you’ve seen this type of stress in zoo animals, well it’s not so different for us. Your sleep quality, attention span and productivity can take the hit.
It’s not all doom and gloom, as there are lots of little things that you can do as part of your daily routine to add a little bit of wild into your life, which is especially relevant right now as we spend much of our days indoors.
5 ways to Rewild yourself indoors
- Adjust your view – can you change your desk, bed or dining table to look out of a window? If the answer is no, try adding pictures of landscapes and vistas into your home, or as the screensaver background of your device.
- Bring the outside in, find fallen branches, plants, driftwood, stones, feathers and use your imagination to integrate this into your home or workplace, adding biophilic elements into your space that you can draw on for inspiration throughout the day.
- Open your windows and get some fresh air and ventilation in your space. Allowing the air to circulate will get the pollutant baddies and stale air out and the fresh air in. Not only that, you can tune into the sounds of the outside, from glorious birdsong to the patter of rain.
- Become a plant mother. Growing a plant from seed and watching it evolve, day by day right in front of your eyes can only be described as magic!
- Eat seasonally and buy local produce where possible, not only is this more nutritious you are doing your bit for the planet by reducing food miles and supporting your local growers and producers!
These all may seem small tweaks, or maybe big? All of these will build up toward having a much bigger and holistic impact on your overall health and mental wellbeing. Go on, try it, I dare you!
How to Rewild yourself on the go
Nothing will ever be better than spending physical time in nature and/or with other fellow humans. Yet the reality of our fast paced lives can also leave us feeling inadequate that we do not spend enough time outdoors, bringing awareness to this can also cause unnecessary judgement on ourselves.
Explore this series of recommendations when you’re on the go or throughout your workday, and allow yourself to be inspired by incredible conservation efforts, new innovation in farming or tuning into nature sounds to focus you whilst you work.
Music & Sounds for mental wellbeing
Like an old friend music can take you down memory lane, inducing all kinds of feelings, body and mind. It can make you want to cry or get you dancing. Use it to your advantage. Listening to sounds and music can help us think more clearly, be more resilient, and come up with creative solutions.
- Nature sounds played through a speaker still have a similar effect to the real thing and can bring about calm and peacefulness. Whether this is for concentration or a need for grounding, play sounds in the background throughout your day. I frequently listen to the sound of the ocean before going to sleep, the coming and going of the waves hitting the shoreline feels like the in and out of my breath and nurses me gently into sleep.
- Who doesn’t love a playlist? Choose your ‘all time’ songs and add them to a playlist. The songs that can take you right back to that specific moment in time, that feeling of connection, togetherness, happiness and use it to your advantage. The days when you may feel a bit fuzzy and need a ‘pick me up’. Put it on! Let it evolve with time. Add and remove the tracks as time goes on and your memories evolve… you get the picture. This is mine for some inspiration.
- Explore sound therapy and start vibrating on frequencies that promote healing. Explore more
Podcasts & Apps for wellbeing
There is a level of acceptance and awareness needed that our phones are an extension of our physical being. There are some EPIC apps and podcasts out there that can open up the outdoors in a way you may not have seen or thought of before. Climate anxiety is a very real thing, however learning about what action is being taken on a local and global level brings hope and lots of ideas of you can get involved too.
The app of all apps, Picture This plant identifier, to say this was a game changer for me, is a massive understatement! As someone who has always found it challenging to match up plants and trees with the illustrations in a book, this changed the game for me. I’ve had so much fun with this app and I know you will too!
Explore the next of these recommendations for apps here and podcasts here
I often envision myself when about to sit down to read, climbing inside the book about to enter another world. Words that resonate so profoundly they are life changing. These days keeping distractions out can be challenging, however one thing a hardcopy book does not do is ping notifications or allow you to have multiple tabs open. Indulge in the focus of those carefully chosen words that fill up every page!
The books in this list of recommendations have all had a significant impact into my life, my view of the world and/or triggered me into action. Check the top picks here
What happens if we don’t reassess our connection with the natural world?
The pandemic has given us a unique opportunity to look at our relationship with nature, and for most of us this has been an incredibly positive experience. The reality of our changing planet cannot be ignored and it’s no longer ‘someone else’s’ problem or in someone else’s county. It is our reality on our planet. Extreme weather; flooding and heat waves along with frightening and rapid decreases in over 50% of our wildlife since the 70’s is already having a dramatic and worrying effect on the way that we live our lives.
Whatever you, do something, however little or small, but do something to show your appreciation for the planet that holds us, nourishes us and in doing so you choose to do the same for yourself ,the life that lives here, and for the little humans that come after us.
Remember: You are nature!
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