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BRING SPRING IN!

How to introduce the great outdoors into your home for a fresh, floral start to Spring

I became interested in the power of connecting with nature after experiencing forest bathing in Japan a decade ago, where it began in the 1980s as a wellness movement to reduce depression and anxiety.  I immediately incorporated the practice into my own life, getting out into the great outdoors as much as possible, immersing my senses in nature, being mindful instead of distracted by my phone as I breathed deeply and slowed down. The uptick in my positivity and energy was striking, and it prompted me to spend 12 months researching the reasons I felt so much better, a study that became a book, Forest Therapy.

I was overwhelmed by the science that proved nature is the biggest, best – free! – boost we can give our mental and physical health. One study showed that people immersed in nature for four days were 50% more able to solve problems creatively than those stuck indoors; another discovered that just five minutes of physicality in a green space lifted spirits and self-confidence. Mother Nature encourages us to feel gratitude and look at the bigger picture, said another… and we can easily incorporate her into our homes as we spring clean this month.

SCREEN SAVERS

Research shows that even looking at pictures of nature reduces mental fatigue and increases positive thinking. Switch your phone lock screen and laptop screensaver image to your favourite nature photo, frame artwork from favourite beauty spots, and buy yourself a nature-themed coloring book. Just looking at a green scene decreases the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which helps us to calm down.

FLOWER POWER

Focusing on small details from the natural world enables our brains to switch off from work worries and think more creatively, so keep plants on your desk, treat yourself to a bunch of flowers for your bedside at weekends, hang air plants in your bathroom – these little nods to nature will boost general happiness and change our mental gears.

BOTANICAL BATHS

A warm bath soothes muscles, induces comfort, and helps us sleep better and adding woody essential oils to your tub for a true ‘forest bath’ boosts the medicinal benefits. Studies show valuable antibacterial, antifungal chemicals emitted by trees called phytoncides make their way into the bottle to help us feel our best.

BLUE SKY THINKING

Daydream. Pay attention to the world outside your window. Look at the birds nesting, clouds floating, leaves falling. Mediate on how they move and change as you make coffee in the morning. Studies show a brain observing nature is more open to reflect, wander and be creative.

CULTIVATE CALM

Turn your fingers green with some inside gardening. Horticultural therapy is real and growing and nourishing plants from cuttings and creating new life inspires mindfulness and contentment. Spider plants and succulents flourish all year round – or turn a bright windowsill into an indoor herb or tomato garden.

BRUSH WITH NATURE

Using colours from nature in your home can create a home full of good vibes, so pick up a paintbrush on a dreary afternoon. Blue is peaceful and perfect for areas of relaxation, green - the quintessential colour of nature – promotes feelings of health and harmony in community spaces, while lavender is calming and restful, perfect for the bedroom.

Forest Therapy: Seasonal Ways to Embrace Nature for a Happier You is out now.

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