“Denial is a useful defense mechanism until it's not.”
  —Rosalind Kaplan

self-care: nature

Self-care is the practice of sufficiently prioritizing what helps you feel well.  As one option for self-care, spending time in Nature goes a long way.  Its benefits are both obvious and subtle.  On the one hand, Nature invites you to reconnect to your senses, breathe fresh air, inhale and exhale with deep delight.  It also clears out the mental cobwebs.

If you’re lucky enough to live in the Bay Area, there is a real feast of Nature within easy reach.  You can go to Muir Woods in Marin county and abide with ancient trees, sensing their ecological wisdom and grandeur.  You can visit the mighty Pacific Ocean at multiple coastal access points, gulping fresh salt air, while tuning into the soothing rhythm of crashing waves.

Wherever you live, there are places to appreciate Nature.  You can do it on the smaller scale too.  When a bird chirps, there’s Nature.  When rain falls, there’s Nature.  When a blade of grass wiggles through a crack in the pavement: Nature!  Nature is all around, not only in the big places, but on your walk between appointments.   In the sky, which never stops.

Meanwhile, making prolonged visits to Nature Areas as an intentional form of self-care is one ideal way to remind yourself how amazing the world is, how much you regain from purposeful sensory contact with it in its primary form, and how each of us is undeniably a part of the bigger picture, not separate from it in any sustainable way.  We too are Nature.

Additional (sometimes surprising) benefits of time outdoors include:

  • Improved short-term memory
  • Restored mental energy
  • Stress relief
  • Improved mental health
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better vision
  • Improved concentration
  • Sharper thinking and creativity
  • Possible anti-cancer effects
  • Immune system boost
  • Reduced risk of early death