How to bring nature indoors when you can’t get outside

We don’t think we’ve ever paid more attention to the weather than we have in the last year – with restrictions on indoor activity in place, many of us have been forced to rekindle our relationships with the great outdoors.

Being outside in nature can help to reduce stress, fear and anger and can even physically reduce blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension. Nature is also the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

But what happens when you can’t get outside? We know that not everyone has access to green space and not everyone is able to physically go outside and enjoy nature. Some of us have limited access or need extra support to go outdoors, for example, if you live in a care home or if you are in hospital.

So we want to bring nature to you, and here’s 10 ways we can do it.

1. Indoor Plants

If you are able to buy or grow plants in your indoor space we highly recommend it – and there really is no limit to how many plants you get! Benefits of plants include improving mood, concentration and compassion. Not to mention that houseplants release oxygen through the day and will help improve the air quality in your home.  This in turn helps to improve your immune system and of course, your mental health. You can even download apps to your phone to help keep your plants alive, such as Waterbot. Read about the best 25 indoor plants here and if you have pets, make sure that any plants you buy are of the non-toxic variety to keep them safe.

2. Ask Alexa

Research has found that spending 60 seconds listening to outdoor sounds can help us to reach a higher state of relaxation. Did you know that you can Ask Alexa to play some soothing outdoor sounds such as rain, waves, thunderstorms and more? Simply ask Alexa to ‘open nature sounds,’ and she will ask you what you want to hear.

3. Watch nature documentaries

We know that this one is obvious – but this is one of our favourites, watching nature documentaries can transport us to almost anywhere in the world alongside animals and wildlife we would never be able experience up close. Just watching how nature thrives and acts when uninfluenced can help to improve our mood and deliver some much needed cuteness. Head to the ‘Nature and Ecology Documentaries’ section on Netflix and you won’t be disappointed.

4. Start an indoor herb garden

Herbs are easy to grow and don’t require much work, all they do require is direct light, so they grow easily when placed in windows around the house. Head over to Amazon and you will find lots of indoor herb kits, including this Herb-a-Licious Grow Kit that is also 100% recyclable. And if you’re buying on Amazon – don’t forget to add us as your Amazon Smile charity!

5. Decorate with images of nature

Studies show that just looking at nature can improve brain function and positive thinking. In fact, some scientists also say that just looking at the colour green instantly soothes us. Download free nature photos from places like Unsplash and Pixabay and decorate your living space until your heart’s content.

6. Guided meditation

We couldn’t create this list without mentioning the power of visualisation. Our imaginations are extremely powerful and under the right circumstances we can simply close our eyes and transport ourselves to anywhere in the world. Use a nature guided meditation to help you relax and focus. If you have the Headspace app, you’ll already find lots of nature based meditations on there, or simply have a Google to see what’s out there. Or if you fancy something more visual, check out Mindful Escapes on BBC iPlayer.

7. Get yourself a SAD lamp

The light produced from a SAD lamp simulates outdoor light and can encourage your brain to produce melatonin and serotonin (the hormones that make you sleepy and happy). Research shows that SAD lamps can be used to treat insomnia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dementia. Light therapy usually works best in the morning, but be sure to speak to your doctor if your eyes or skin are sensitive to light.

8. Let the fresh air in!

We know this is another obvious one but how many of us routinely open our windows? The great British weather sometimes – or should we say, most of the time – stops us from doing so. But we would always recommend opening windows when you can and airing out your living space and breathing in the fresh air each morning. Opening two windows on opposite sides of the room (if you can) can also create a cross wind, letting the bad air our and the good air in.

9. Wildlife Webcams

Fancy watching some cute animals live? Of course you do! As a result of the pandemic many zoos and wildlife centres have been live streaming their animals and wildlife activity, the London Zoo even launched their own Virtual Zoo. But don’t stop there, there are wildlife cameras set up in numerous countries around the world; you can even watch polar bears in Alaska. Check out this article to find the best wildlife cams in the UK.

10. Breathe in the smells of nature

Use an essential oil diffuser to fill your home with the scents of the outdoors. You can pick them up on Amazon from £15. Essential oils have many other benefits other than just making your room smell nice, depending on the oil you use they can help to reduce stress and anxiety and improve your immune system. There are so many oils to choose from including lavender, lemongrass and eucalyptus.

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  • Have you found a great way to bring the outdoors indoors that we haven’t mentioned above? Be sure to et us know!
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