Spending quality time in nature has been linked to improving physical and mental health. By being outside in parks, on beaches or boating on the water, or on hiking and biking trails, you will be taking steps to improve your overall emotional well-being, feel less anxious, and decrease the hold stress has on you from day to day. Add in an exercise component to the time you will spend outdoors and you will be maximizing the positive impact of nature.
This year, commit to spending more time immersing yourself in nature. Plan outdoor time on weekends with your family and friends or take mental health days off for solo adventures. And don’t worry if you live in a city because there are many positive ways you can increase your connection to nature in urban settings too. Here are five new year’s resolutions you can make to strengthen your connection to nature.
Make a National Park Bucket List
America’s greatest idea currently consists of 423 national park sites across the country. The crown jewels of the National Park System (NPS) are the 63 proper, grand and glorious national parks. Whether you decide to fish in national parks, have a picnic, go kayaking, birdwatch, or take a hike, the most glorious new year’s resolution to strengthen your connection to nature is to check off at least one park or site from the list every month. Invest in an America the Beautiful Nation-al Park pass and experience the natural splendor of the USA all year long.
Practice No Meat Monday
The United Nations estimates that livestock produce more than 14% of all man-made greenhouse gases, with beef producing the most greenhouse gas emissions. One way you can reconnect to (and help heal) nature is to eat less meat. Thanks to the preponderance of meat substitutes, it’s easier than ever to have your cake and eat it too. You can also consider simply reducing the amount of red meat and poultry you consume, in favor of a more pescatarian diet (especially if it’s fish you have caught yourself and turned into these easy to make and utterly delicious blackened fish bites)!
Watch One Sunset and Sunrise Every Week
Sunsets and sunrises are too often appreciating only while on vacation, from a balcony, beach or cruise ship with nothing but water on the horizon, but the beauty inherent in the start and end of each and every day is available no matter where you are, assuming the clouds cooperate. Reconnect with nature in the new year by being outside at the start or end of one day each week, with a cup of tea or coffee in your hands, and eyes wide in wonder at the majestic colors painting in the sky above. The world can seem like a mad place with angry, misleading, and hurtful messages zooming across all our screens, all day long. But taking a few serene moments each week to unplug from all that and instead, plug into the vibrant beauty that exists in nature, may go a long way to improving not only your connection to nature but your mental health too.
Observe the Night Sky Once A Month
Buy yourself a guide to the stars (or download a smartphone app that will help you recognize the planets and constellations) and make a new year’s resolution to spend at least one night outside, beneath a canopy of stars. If you live in an area with an abundance of light pollution, find a nearby park or beach that gets truly dark at night and make a plan to make the night sky a part of how you reconnect to nature in the near year. As a bonus, when in the pitch black of night, your other senses will become heightened, meaning you will truly hear the owl in the tree and the leaves rustling on the ground, and smell and taste the salty air blowing in off the ocean or the muskiness of the forest.
Become a Nature Photographer
You don’t need to have Ansel Adams instinct to be a nature photographer, nor do you need fancy camera equipment. You likely already have a camera in your pocket that takes fantastic photos, and any good photographer will tell you that the best camera to use is the one you have with you. So this year, strengthen your connection to nature by observing it, seeing the small details, and documenting it all through a series of photographs that capture the bumblebee on the sunflower, the golden hour light splashing upon the leaves of a mighty oak, early morning shadows being thrown across a statue still lake or the reflection of clouds in the mid-day sky on that same lake. To deepen your newly established connection to nature and further your new creative hobby, consider making a physical photo album of your macro, landscape, and black & white images. Working on such a tangible creation may also help you slow down, appreciate your environment, and enjoy a less stressful new year thanks to the wonders of nature.
The beauty of strengthening your connection to nature is that it can be a group activity or a solo pursuit. Here are 14 more fun things to do outside by yourself in the new year!